4 Years to Normal

A lot can happen in 4 years. In the past 4 years, I have taught in 4 different buildings. I have earned my masters degree. I have added a furry friend to my home and my heart. I have loved, been loved and been brokenhearted. I have been blessed to add inspirational, loyal friends to my life. I have witnessed friends get married and have babies. I have run until I thought my legs would give out. I have become a part of a new and amazing church that has inspired me to give my whole heart and my whole life to God. I have traveled the world and left my heart in San Salvador. I have watched one of my best friends conquer cancer year after year.

4 years ago, I watched my mom take on cancer for one final battle. I think back on all the things that have happened in the past 4 years and wish so desperately that she would have been a part of each one. I believe she would be proud of my perseverance as I am bounced from school to school. Dewey’s antics would drive Mom crazy, but she would love him for his fantastic cuddling abilities. She would have held me as I cried over yet another love lost and asked too many questions at the mention of another possibility of love. Mom would absolutely love my new friends. And she would be so of the ones that have stayed through the years. Kristen & Trai’s wedding would have BLOWN. HER. MIND. And she would have rolled her eyes because she would have known that the wedding bar had been raised. And oh my goodness, she would have never give Baby Dominick back once she had him in her arms. Mom loved babies! She might not have understood why I felt the need to run 13.1 miles, but she would have been there at the finish line cheering me on. Rock City Church would be exactly the kind of church she could thrive in. Creating a life in another country is definitely not something Mom would have ever done, but I hope she would be proud of my passion to see God’s love shown through me all over the world. And oh how proud she would be to see Amee kick cancer’s ass year after year and really show cancer who’s boss with the upcoming Baby BellWanzo!

I would give every moment up for just one more hug, one more “I love you too!”

There isn’t a moment I don’t want to share with Mom. It doesn’t get easier as time goes on; it just becomes more normal.

If you are as blessed as I was to have The World’s Best Mom (because, let’s be honest…we all do!), give her a hug, send her a text, pick up the phone…let her know that just 1 day is too long to go without sharing even the smallest of moments.

Ohio University Mom’s Weekend, Spring 2005
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Welcome to the World, Dominick. Take Notes.

On May 25th, 2014, one of my best friends, Kristen, gave birth to her first child! She is not the first of my friends to have a baby, but she is the first of my best friends to have a baby and be living in the same city as me, so this is a big deal. Kristen, her husband Trai, and both their parents labored for an entire weekend before Baby D burst into this world with plans to do some fiercely amazing things.

Kristen and Trai

Kristen is an only child, so she views her close girlfriends as sisters. This means I’m an aunt! I plan on being a major part of Dominick’s life and I can’t wait to experience life with him.

In honor of Dom being born on May 25th, I have written a list of 25 things I hope to teach him in his life.

    1. I swear to the Good Lord, your mom was super cool once. Don’t ask me to prove it. She’d kill me if I told you half of the things that make her so cool. OR at least wait until I’m 3 vodka sodas in to ask me.
    2. The great game of flip cup. Your mom and I were and still are champion players. It’s like riding a bike.
    3. Be nice to your teachers and do as they say, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Confession: I grade the “good” kids way easier than the pain in my ass kids. And trust me, your mother will kill you if you don’t get good grades.
    4. Reading is sexy. I mean, sure…video games are cool, but a girl is going to be way more likely to talk to you if you’re a reader.
    5. Gay? Fine by me! Seriously. I’d actually prefer it if you’re gay. By the time you’re able to read and comprehend this, I pray that who people decide to love and marry isn’t even worth a discussion anymore. Plus, I’ll probably be married to a slew of gay men, so I’m sure you’re already in tune with the gay community.
    6. It’s okay to make giant mistakes. Believe me…your mom and I have made some DOOZIES in our day! But when you need help, go to your parents. There isn’t anything you can do to make them love you less. They might be frustrated with you, but I can guarantee that they will do anything in their power to help you out.
    7. Exercise is AWESOME! Getting your heart rate up for just 30 minutes each day boosts your endorphins by like a gadzillion percent. And endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. Ugh. In this moment, I’m really hoping you’re gay so that you can appreciate that Elle Woods quote.
    8. Hold onto your faith. Your friends will let you down. Your family will let you down. God will never let you down. He may frustrate and confuse you, but He will ALWAYS be at your side with your best interest in mind. God has a wonderful, beautiful plan for your life. When life sucks, just trust that God is working in everything for a reason.
    9. Be good to your friends. Apologize when you’ve wronged them and forgive them when they screw up. We’re human, it happens. But life truly is not worth living without some badass friends at your side. Look at all your aunts and uncles; very few of us are genetically related to you, but consider ourselves family. We couldn’t have made this family work without a little bit of forgiveness, understanding and A LOT of love.
    10. Do whatever it takes to get along with your parents and introduce them to your friends. Yes, they’re super annoying, but they are your #1 fans! They are going to be way more likely to let you borrow the car and stay out past curfew if they know and trust who you are with.
    11. Be nice to girls. They are fragile creatures that need to be treated with respect and care.
    12. Is Facebook still at thing in 2029? God, I hope so! I can only imagine all the cool foods I will be eating and fantastic things I will be doing in 15 years! I will want to make sure all my friends know about it! I digress… Don’t friend your parents on Facebook! Sure, you should be open and honest with them about your life, but your friends are idiots and are going to post stupid things that you would much rather your parents didn’t know about. And the truth is, they probably don’t need to know. Don’t worry… I’ll talk to them about this.
    13. Call your grandparents! Once again, you come from a very loving and supportive family. Would it kill you to tell your grandparents what is going on in your life? Plus, they’ll be more likely to slip a 20 in your Christmas card!
    14. YOU’RE a badass kid, but don’t let that go to YOUR head. Let’s go THERE so we can drink THEIR beer THEY’RE dumb enough to be giving away. If you learn nothing else from me, know the difference between these five words!
    15. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Embrace EVERY day you are blessed with by finding some small bit of happiness in it.
    16. Surround yourself with people that make you a better man. Shake the haters off and latch onto the friends that tell you when you’re being an idiot, but encourage you to be better than you were before.
    17. You are going to fail at things in life. What will impress people is when you get up and try again EVERY time. You’ll probably even impress yourself.
    18. NEVER drink straight Everclear. You’ll go blind and your man bits will never work right again! Okay…maybe not, but seriously. Not worth the risk.
    19. Be silly and laugh at yourself! People will laugh with you and life is more fun when you’re not worried what other people are thinking.
    20. A few days after you were born, Maya Angelou passed away. She was a brilliant poet and author. She was also an actress, screenwriter, director, civil rights activist, and educator. One of her most famous quotes is “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In my 29 years in this world, I have learned this to be absolutely true. I can’t remember what one of my ex-boyfriends said to make me angry, but I remember being so angry I threw a hairbrush at his foot. I can’t remember every kind act your mom has ever done for me, but I know she has made me feel loved. The point is, don’t overthink saying the right thing or doing everything right; focus on how your words and actions will affect people later.
    21. Don’t let your significant other be the focus of your life 100% of the time. You still need to put effort into your friendships because who else is going to listen while you ramble on about how perfectly fantastic they are?? And trust me – it can be very hard to earn back friendships you pushed aside for a relationship that lasted half as long.
    22. Learn to cook. There is nothing sexier than a man offering to make dinner.
    23. Something my mom taught me: Never rely on anyone to take care of you financially past the age of 22(ish). Not even your parents. You could and should rely on Mom and Dad to help you when you need it, but learn to be self-sufficient. And never, EVER, expect your significant other to support you 100%. Life happens and you need to know how to take care of yourself.
    24. Something my dad taught me: Always have more than one toolbox to work from. Be good at more than one thing. Your first career choice might cease to interest you someday, or for reasons outside of your control, you are unable to maintain your dream job. Be able to make money doing something else and be willing to learn new skills.
    25. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) When we love people, it is more difficult to wrong each other, but when we do (we’re human, so it’s going to happen!), they will see the love in our hearts and be better able to forgive us. Plus, you want to be remembered as the nice guy and not the bully. Loving people should come naturally to you because your parents are two of the most loving people I have ever met. It has never quite made sense to me how two people can be so short in stature and yet have hearts so big. You are truly blessed, Dominick.

Dominick

Taking the Dip

Yesterday morning was supposed to be fairly simple for a Sunday…church with Shelly, Dad & Cathy, lunch, laundry….my typical get stuff done day. Well, all of those things happened, but one more item was spontaneously added to the list.

I have been attending Rock City Church since November of last year. As a lifelong Christian, I have been through my fair share of churches. I grew up attending a Lutheran church with my family, often attended Sunday mass with my childhood best friend Sarah (she couldn’t sleep over Saturday night unless she went to mass first, so I made it part of the event!), switched to a different Lutheran church where many of my high school friends were in 9th grade and began going to a nondenominational Christian church after college, where many of those same friends had moved to. Needless to say, church has always been an important part of my life and it needs to be a place where my friends and I feel welcome, wanted and safe from judgement.

Rock City not only makes me feel all of those things, but in the 7 short months I have attended, mI have felt more compelled to do the work of Jesus than I ever felt anywhere else. At previous churches, when service opportunities were announced, by intial thought was, “Well, I shoudl probably go, but I don’t wanna go if I don’t know anyone there. Meh, I probably won’t know anyone. I’ll go to the next one.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to serve alongside our close friends and family, but God calls us to do His work whether we are with each and every one of our Facebook friends, a few acquaintances or no one we know at all. I was not able to focus on that fact – I was more worried about if I would have to meet new people, which for me, is something I actually love!

I have not done a lot of service events with Rock City Church, but now, rather than wondering who will be there that I know, I figure, “That sounds cool and like something that really needs to be done – sign me up!” For example, when I first heard about Rock City’s mission trips to San Salvador,my interest was immediately piqued. I had always wanted to go on a mission trip, but for one reason or another, never made it a reality. But when the idea of traveling with Rock City to San Salvador crossed my path, I decided I was going to “pray circles” around whether or not I should go. It didn’t matter to me who else would be going; more likely than not, being that I was so new in the church, I probably would not know anyone on this trip. One prayer led to another and I knew that God was putting the people of San Salvador on my heart for a reason and that I was meant to go.

Not only had my motives behind serving change after joining Rock City, but my relationship with my dad changed as well. I invited Dad and his girlfriend Cathy to join me for a service one weekend. With the loud music, unusual venue (Rock City Church uses movie theaters as their place of worship!), and the fact that it was something new (my dad and I both cling to tradition very tightly), I was sure Dad would come once to be nice and that would be that. Well, I was wrong! Dad and Cathy both LOVED it! They loved the upbeat, heart-pounding music. They loved the cleverness of a movie theater house of worships, and most importantly, they loved the pastor Chad’s message. So they came back the next week with Cathy’s really-not-so-elderly father, John (make sure he knows I put that in print!!). And even John loved the service!

Because Dad and I had begun worshipping together again for the first time since around 2003, God began working in our relationship. Planning for my trip to San salvador brought Dad and I closer. Chad’s weekly messages gave us something to discuss at our weekly dinners. I was trying to refine my ability with my father to be slow to anger and quick to listen. I truly believe Rock City Church has brought out the best in both of us and helped remind us that before getting frustrated with one another (which happens VERY frequently), we need to express ourselves in love. Dad and I have gotten along better in the past 5 months than we have in any of our 29 years together.

This brings me to yesterday’s unexpected event. I woke up early, took care of some things around the house and went to church to meet Shelly. The message was the 2nd of a 2 week series called “The Dip.” Last week’s sermon was the idea that “We all go through it. One way or another. Whether by design or by default. We want to avoid it. Nobody wants to go through it. But there are some things God can only speak to us in The Dip. Find out what to do when you’re in it, and what’s waiting for you on the other side once you go through The Dip.” I should’ve seen what was coming in yesterday’s message – a different kind of “dip.”

It was Baptism Sunday.

The message focused on the fact that God gives us a very simple and straightforward command: “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38) A water baptism is meant to be our first act of obedience to Christ. He doesn’t say “Repent and convert at least 5 other people.” or “Repent and tithe all your money to the church!” or “Repent and give up all your heathen ways NOW!” No, God says “Repent and be baptized.” So why is water baptism so important to Christians? What does it mean for us? God responds to simple obedience. If we can be trusted to do the little things He asks of us, imagine the big things God can trust us with! We might not understand why God tells us to do something, but He’s God, so we just do it. Take the story In Acts of Philip and the Ethiopian. God told Philip to “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he did. There, he met an Ethiopian who was “on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.” God then directed Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” So he did. Philip overheard the man reading from Isaiah and asked him if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” and invited Philip onto the chariot to sit with him. He showed Philip the passage her was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.” (Isaiah 53:7,8)

Using that piece of scripture, Philip began telling the Ethiopian the good news of Jesus Christ. They traveled along the road together and came upon some water. The Ethiopian asked, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” So they went down to the water and Philip baptized the Ethiopian.

What is holding each of us back from begin baptized? Often the simplest commands and the most simple acts of obedience have the deepest significance and yield the greatest results. When God proclaimed that “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased,” Jesus had just been baptized. All it took for him to please his father, the creator of the universe, was to be baptized; to proclaim in front of everyone that he belonged to God. 

I was listening to Chad preach, I wondered, Well, I was baptized as a baby, doesn’t that count?? You’re just talking to the people that have never been baptized at all, right?? WRONG. This is something I have wondered many times before – if someone needs to be re-baptized if their parents did it for them as a baby. As if Chad was reading my mind, he imparted, “If you were baptized as a baby, that says more about your parents’ faith than your own faith.” This actually made sense to me. When Mom and Dad had Uncle Art baptize me, they were proclaiming the church and to God that they would raise me in a Christ-centered home, with Biblical values and teach me to live a Christian life. So yes, that says a lot about their faith and how important it was to their life. And they did all those things. They “made” me go to church each Sunday, they encouraged me to join the youth group and they were at each and every time I earned a place in the church musical chorus, they were there front and center.

But I never announced to the world that I had made a decision to follow Christ and declare myself as his. I truly appreciate that my parents had a very big part in pointing me towards Jesus, but as a person that can (and sometimes to my parents’ chagrin) and has always made my own decisions, He asks me to proclaim it for myself. So yesterday, after Chad gave an amazing and action-inspiring sermon about the importance of water baptism, he invited anyone that wanted to make the decision and announce to the world their dedication to Jesus to head out back where a team of people would meet them. Well, that would be cool, but when I get baptized, I wanna have an outfit prepared, I want to invite my friends and family, I want to have a lunch planned afterwa…wait. Where’s Dad going? “Shelly, did he just walk out there?? We should probably go with him, right? Holy crap!” Shelly and I followed Dad to a room where he was filling out a baptism registration card and getting clothes he could get baptized in so he wouldn’t have to drench his church clothes. “What’re you doing??” Dad asserted, “I was baptized as a baby, but this is important to me and I want to do it now! Plus, it’s better than when they do the winter baptisms in 12-degree weather!” (He had a point, yesterday was a beautiful, sunshiney day!) I stuttered, “Oh! Huh…well, I guess I can’t let you do this alone…hand me a card!”

As a spur of the moment decision, I made the choice to go with my dad and be baptized. I have been doing my best to live a Christ-centered life my entire life. (Some days are notably better than others!) What was holding me back from making it official and declaring to God and to the world that my heart and my soul are His?? Not having a well planned out event or a fashionable outfit? Well, that definitely sounds like something I’d say, and just showed that I wasn’t think with my head on straight! I donned a Rock City Church t-shirt and a pair of workout shorts and headed outside with Dad. We were met by a team of people just waiting to pray with us. They thanked God for moving our hearts and our feet that day and sent us on our way towards the baptismal tubs! Dad and I decided that we were in this together, so we were getting dunked together! We stepped into the giant, horse-trough-turned-baptismal and sat facing each other. Pastor Todd Marrah knelt down beside me while another volunteer knelt next to Dad, and Todd assured us that as soon as we came up from the water, we would be washed clean in the blood of Christ, clean and forgiven from the sins we committed 10 years ago, the sins we committed 5 days ago and the sins we will commit 5 hours from that moment (we’re human…it’s normal to sin on your baptism day!). He asked if we understood and accepted that. Dad and I both said that we did, leaned back into the water and came up refreshed and new.

Oh, did I mention that Dad and I’s few moments of baptism were on the big screen? Oh yeah! Since Rock City holds their services in movie theaters, they live broadcast the baptism into the theater for the rest of the church to watch. I’ve been in there for previous baptism services, and it’s amazing. Every time someone come up from the water, the entire theater rejoices with applause and cheers!

Do I feel differently now that I’ve been baptized? Honestly, no, not really. But I am proud that I got to share the moment with my Dad and now I can go to San Salvador practicing what I preach. I now know, without a doubt, that when Jesus calls me home, my home is with Him in Heaven for eternity. My friends and family know who my heart belongs to, but most importantly, God knows!

I wholeheartedly trust that God has a plan for me, goes before me and has a place ready for me in Heaven. I know that if I trust God enough to follow him, He will allow me to do immeasurably more than I could ever do on my own. Yes, I will falter. But with God at my side, time and time again, He has and He will continue to strengthen my faith.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Hillsong United

***UPDATE*** You can watch Chad’s sermon HERE! It’s Week 2 of the series.

Prayer Team

Prayer Team

 

We are assured that we are cleaned from ALL our past sins and ALL our future sins through Jesus' ultimate sacrifice.

We are assured that we are cleaned from ALL our past sins and ALL our future sins through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.

 

A friend in the worship service recognized a few familiar faces this week!

A friend in the worship service recognized a few familiar faces this week!

 

photo 3 (2)

The 7 Life Miracles: Life Coaching, Session #1

My dear friend Julie Wilkes has written a book, The 7 Life Miracles! I will be working through her book and journaling my experiences as I go. For more information on the book and what I intend to do here, please check out THIS POST!

7 Life Miracles

Life Coaching, Session #1

After reading and completing the exercises for Miracle 3, Create, my “So What?” was to contact Julie and set up a Life Coaching Session. One of the purposes of the Miracle 3 exercises is to look at your life as is vs. what you dream it could be and then take steps towards creating your dream life. As I completed the exercises, I quickly began to realize that I had never really stopped to think about what my dream life is! I’ve always just taken life as it comes and crossed bridges as I came to them. I have never had one lofty goal that I have worked towards.

Another thing that compelled me to meet with Julie was the idea that I am not working in my dream career. Yes, I love teaching and I’m good at it, but if money weren’t an issue, is that what I would be doing? No, probably not. So what would I be doing? I’ve always had a couple ideas, but this is where Julie’s assistance would come in. I really wanted to talk to her, begin to define my dream life/career and work towards it.

How’d It Go?!

I had my Kickoff Session with Julie yesterday! This whole thing will be an ongoing process, involving meeting every other week and checking in on Sundays. Our first session was mostly spent on beginning to define what my dream job would be and some steps to work towards that. Julie and I have known each other for about a year now, but this was actually our first chance to sit down and talk intimately. At first, the session felt a little bit like one of my therapy sessions, which is actually a great thing! I’ve had a ton of success with my therapist and I think what they can do to help people is amazing.

Julie began by asking me to really try to think about what my dream life would look like. If I could live anywhere, where would that be? Who would my friends be? After a moment or 2 of thinking, I replied that I’ve always wanted to be somewhere warm; Florida or somewhere Southern, but what keeps me here right now is my people. My home has to be on the beach. I see myself with the same best friends I have now.  My perfect day would include waking up without an alarm clock, having my coffee, spending time with the dog and writing, and most importantly, being outside in the warmth.

This is when I was finally able to admit to myself that if I could make writing a full-time job, that would make me the happiest. But I have never tried to define or create my dream job out of fear. My mom was a teacher, so she knew how to make that happen and once I was a teacher, it became a solid paycheck with 3 months off in the summer. I have been very fortunate in my life that I have never really had to struggle financially. My parents were able (and wanting!) to support my college career and all the other things a person needs in life. Yes, I have had months where my bank account neared $0, resulting in serious budgeting, but then entire time, I knew another paycheck would be on the way in a week or 2. So the idea of having a new career and having to possibly worry about money has caused me to stay in the safety and comfort of my teaching career.

Next, Julie asked me to define a few of my strengths. I listed my ability to make friends with people, the fact that I am a super planner (but also noted that this can be a weakness), and that I am forever optimistic/happy. After reviewing what we had talked about a few moments earlier, Julie found it interesting that I cited not wanting to leave my friends as my reason for still being in Columbus, yet I also listed being able to make new friends quite easily!

Huh…

Now that I think about it, I can attribute that to another one of my strengths: loyalty. Once I am friends with a person, we are friends FOREVER (so buyer beware! 😉 ). I take my friendships very seriously and work very hard to nurture and grow them into lifelong investments. I am always wanting and willing to let new people into my heart, but I want to take special care of the ones that are already there. And I know what happens to friendships when someone moves away. We keep in touch, but obviously it’s just not the same as being able to see someone whenever I want, especially if I were to move down south, which is more than a few hours drive. Because of this, moving might not be something I focus on so much as a possible career change.

Julie then asked me to list my support system (my family and closest friends) and describe a time in the last year that I had been successful. It took me a minute to come up with an answer, but when I did it was completing the half marathon last year. I had to actually train and work for it – I couldn’t just decide to run 13.1 miles a week ahead of time and then actually do it. I especially felt successful because it was my body and no one else could do it for me. The greatest strength that helped me to be successful was my determination and commitment. I said I was going to do it, so I did. Plus, I paid $70, so there was a financial value.

After Julie and I had chatted and gotten to know one another, we defined my goal as working towards becoming a full-time writer. And here was one of the most important parts of this session – I CANNOT FAIL. Not “will not” or “refuse to,” but Julie’s coaching doesn’t allow for failure. Let me explain. My 1-year goal is to take steps to becoming a full-time writer, not to actually become a full-time writer. All of my goals that Julie and I set are goals that I would like to achieve even if I weren’t working towards a career change, so none of them will be hindering to my current wellbeing. To put it another way, in the words of Brad, one of my funniest friends, “It’s not, ‘Step 1 – Quit your job.'”

I know have goals for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and a year. These are all very pliable and will probably change as time goes on.

1 Month Goals:

  • Research 1 other way to get published/or write
  • Learn about video blogging
  • Meet with 1 person who is a full-time writer and ask questions
  • Research writing classes I could take this summer

3 Month Goals:

  • Research 1-2 ways to get published
  • Try video blogging
  • Meet with 2 people who are writers to ask questions
  • Sign up for writing class
  • Research a place I would like to visit as a potential place to move to

SO WHAT?!

I am actually very excited about this whole thing! Just the idea of having a dream job and actually being able to work towards it in exhilarating! And who knows, maybe I’ll start doing all this and decide that blogging/writing isn’t my dream job at all, but something else is! I feel as thoughI am about to discover quite a bit about myself this year.

Also, I’m gonna throw this out there to help me accomplish a few goals: If you know anything about vlogging (video blogging), writing classes in Columbus, Ohio or are/know a full-time blogger I could meet with, let me know!!

Amanda & I know the 7 Life Miracles...do you??

Amanda & I know the 7 Life Miracles…do you??

*******

ALL THE LINKS!!!

  • My thoughts on
    • Miracle 1: Embrace HERE!
    • Miracle 2: Connect HERE!
    • Miracle 3: Create HERE!
  • Check out everything Julie Wilkes HERE!
  • The 7 Life Miracles on Facebook!
  • Seven Studios on Facebook!
  • Learn about The 7 Life Miracles book HERE!
  • Order The 7 Life Miracles  on Amazon HERE!
  • Check availability at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and get it now HERE!

The 7 Life Miracles: Create

My dear friend Julie Wilkes has written a book, The 7 Life Miracles! I will be working through her book and journaling my experiences as I go. For more information on the book and what I intend to do here, please check out THIS POST!

7 Life Miracles

Miracle 3

Create

Create your own canvas — Create the life you want to live.

Phew! This was one heck of a Miracle! I actually read the chapter a little over a week ago, but was so overwhelmed that I knew I needed to take some time to really deal with this Miracle.  It wasn’t going to be processed in one Sunday afternoon! In Create, Julie asks us to look at our life as an art canvas and start all over! We are to leave our past experiences behind, learn from them and breathe in a fresh start. SEE??? Now you know why this took a little time!

This section has a few activities to help us work through creating out own canvas.

Exercise 1: Viewing Your Current Canvas

This first activity asks us to take a snapshot of our current life, figuring out who we are and where we are in our lives today.

Choose a few key questions & answer honestly. I Have included my answers!

  • How do you feel today?
    • Relaxed, accomplished, motivated
  • What makes you happy?
    • Spending time with friends and family, exercising, cuddling with my dog
  • How do you feel about yourself/your choices in life?
    • Good! I know not all of my choices have been the best, but I’ve learned from them. I feel mostly good about myself. Some negative thoughts creep in sometimes, but I am usually able to shake them off quickly.
  • What are your passions?
    • Doing good things for my friends. Writing. Reading.
  • Do you have hobbies?
    • Working out, writing, reading
  • Do you volunteer?
    • Not as much as I’d like to.

Exercise 2: Uncoloring Your Canvas

This exercise encourages us to “…strip away negative colors that lurk on our canvas by thinking about any roadblocks, obstacles, and unnecessary anxiety or worry in our lives.” Because this can be an intensely personal ordeal, I have provided some quote from Julie’s book to help inspire you, rather than my canvas’ gross colors.

“Just a few negative feelings, toxic people or stressful situations can change how we interpret our life.”

“…choose to perceive these things differently as you move forward. Instead of letting someone break you down, allow yourself to create distance from that person or at least know that whatever he or she says or does is not truth – not YOUR truth!”

Let them go. Let them go. LET THEM GO!!!!

Exercise 3: Determine Your Colors!

Now we get to start with our perfectly white (okay, mine would be pink) canvas. “Let go of the past and imagine your fabulous future…be honest about what you want. I am not encouraging you to dream unrealistically — dream about what excites your passions and fuels your soul.”

Woah. Here we go!

“Picture the life you would like to live 10 years from now. What year will that be? How old will you be?”

2024: I will be 39!!

  • How will people describe you?
    • Happy, healthy, fun, reliable, kind, loving, smart
  • What is important to you?
    • The people in my life- my friends and family
  • Where do you live?
    • A house in Columbus. Maybe not the same house, but a house. If not the same house, perhaps in Clintonville or closer to downtown.
  • What do you do?
    • Teach, maybe write.
  • What is your home like?
    • Clean! Stylish, organized.
  • Are you happy?
    • YES! Well, most of the time!
  • With whom do you spend you time?
    • Most of my time will be spend with my future husband J and friends.
  • Can you see yourself laughing?
    • Quite frequently.
  • What time do you wake up each morning?
    • 5:30am
  • What’s the first thing you do?
    • Kiss my hubby!
  • Can you picture a place where you spend your time?
    • Some sort of “book nook.” A place with a big comfy chair I can read and write in.
  • Can you see the path you walk for exercise each morning?
    • If I don’t live in the same house, hopefully I will live in a house within walking distance to work, the gym, social gatherings, etc. I don’t know about walking each morning, but there will be some sort of exercise in my daily life.
  • When you go to sleep, how do you feel?
    • Tired, but accomplished for the day.
  • Are you living with passion?
    • YES!

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There are two more exercises that I did not document here. #4 involves creating a vision, timeline and goals to help you accomplish your vision. #5 asks us to decide how we will track our goals (okay, it’s much more involved than just that! You’ll have to read the book!). I have decided to be a journaler (obvi).

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Gosh, this Miracle has been especially trying for me. The main point here is to find a life goal and make a plan to work towards it. That’s great and I really want to do that, but here’s my problem: I’ve never really had life goals! I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! Graduating high school and college were never really “goals;” they were more things that were expected of me, so I did them. There wasn’t a question of whether or not it was going to happen. As for my career, Plan A was to be a successful photographer! I’m now a high school English teacher. My college degree is in Commercial Photography. It wasn’t until my junior year that I decided that photography wasn’t something I wanted to do as a career. But I had to work, and teaching was something I saw myself doing down the road. Little did I know that “down the road” was only like…half a mile! Anyways, my point is that my career goals have been a little wobbly over the years. When I think about where I’ll be in my career 10 years from now, I don’t really know!

Here’s the honest-to-God truth about my career plans:

I’m currently a teacher. And I really love it. I do. But is it something I want to do for 35+ years?? Hell no! When I think about being 49 (20 years from now), I honestly don’t know if I see myself as a teacher. Yes, I enjoy what I do, but is it my passion? I don’t think so. I’ve seen passionate teachers. My mother was one. She was over-the-top amazing as an educator. She daily worked to improve herself in her career, the buildings she worked in and the people around her. I’ve been fortunate enough to be educated by passionate teachers. Look, I love what I do and I work really hard to be good at it. I don’t take my job lightly. I’m preparing kids for the world, for goodness’ sake! My students’ ability to be functional adults in the world lies partially in my hands, so please don’t misread me when I say I am not “passionate” about my career. When I envision someone who is passionate about their job, I see someone who lives, eats, and breathes their work; someone working 24/7 to be better at their craft. And that just isn’t teaching and me. Quite honestly, when I leave my school building, I leave my work. Very rarely do I work at home after school. Sure, I’ll stay late at work to lesson plan, grade, etc., but as soon as I physically leave, I mentally leave as well. The only things I take home with me are thoughts of my students. They are on my mind much of the time. I wonder what they’re doing and if they’re safe.

Okay, so I’m not passionate about my job. What job could I be passionate about? And there is the problem – I don’t know. I could see myself becoming passionate about my job if I could teach book club versus English. One of the best parts of my jobs is watching fall in love with reading. Seeing a kid laugh at a character, empathize with a character’s suffering or question “Why the hell did the author write the book like that??” gives me the chills and makes the early mornings and career questions worthwhile. I could also work with students on writing about what they read, but in a less formal situation- just write! It doesn’t have to be this format, or this prompt…just write your reaction. So anyways. Book club. I could teach Book Club. But there doesn’t seem to be a need or opening for that position. Maybe there is somewhere outside of my building or district or city or state! I’d just have to move to be passionate about my job! Yeah….no. I’m not leaving my friends and family; people I’ve worked really hard to build relationships with. It seems as though I choose my people over a passionate career, and that’s fine with me.

Back to what a passionate job would be. Writing? Yes, I love writing and seem to be fairly good at it and would actually like to learn to be better! But as a career?? What would I write about that people would pay to read? I have no desire to write novels. Some sort of self-help book like Julie wrote? Honey…I have all the questions and zero answers. A blog? Lots of people make lots of money writing blogs! Sure!!! But I’m not so sure that enough people want to read what I write about – my life and my thoughts. Some people read it and I am thankful for each and every one of you! But I don’t have a big enough following that equals career; especially when I have a wonderful, good paying job!

So maybe I focus on another aspect of my life for my goal setting. I really hope to be happily married by 39, but is that a goal I can work towards? It really depends on another person and so many things have to work together to make it happen, so I don’t really think I can make that a “goal” per se. Also, I’m much more focused on being HAPPY at 39 rather than married! Yes, I hope to be, but being happy is much more important to me.

SO WHAT??? How will I work to create my own canvas?

My goal for this Miracle will be to make an appointment with Julie for a Life Coaching session. I have so many thoughts and emotions running through my head about where I see myself 10 years from now that I need someone to help me process it all!! For me, having a 10-year goal is very important. I don’t want to just float through life and take everything as it comes. I like having goals and I think having a more solidified plan would help give my life more purpose. Plus, the idea that my career and my passions don’t exactly match is something that has bothered me for a while, but I’ve never come to a resolution about it. Julie is a professional and has helped so many people – I would love to be a part of that!

And yes. I just made it my goal to make a goal. It’s my blog – I can do that!

“Positive habits can help you work in the most efficient manner, stay organized and calm, be your best, and make confident decisions that support your goals and aspirations.” – Julie Wilkes

My creation space this afternoon!

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ALL THE LINKS!!!

  • My thoughts on
    • Miracle 1: Embrace HERE!
    • Miracle 2: Connect HERE!
  • Check out everything Julie Wilkes HERE!
  • The 7 Life Miracles on Facebook!
  • Seven Studios on Facebook!
  • Learn about The 7 Life Miracles book HERE!
  • Order The 7 Life Miracles  on Amazon HERE!
  • Check availability at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and get it now HERE!

The 7 Life Miracles: Connect

My dear friend Julie Wilkes has written a book, The 7 Life Miracles! I will be working through her book and journaling my experiences as I go. For more information on the book and what I intend to do here, please check out THIS POST!

7 Life Miracles

Miracle 2

Connect

Look for your coach & pay it forward.

When I read the name of Miracle 2, I thought, Nice! I’m all about connecting! I could make friends with a brick wall! This Miracle is going to be MY JAM!!! Well, as it turns out, although both involve connecting with people, Julie’s definition and my definition of “Connect” vary slightly.

When Julie writes about Connecting with people, she means looking for people in my life that have “coached” me through difficult times and served as life examples. “…people will come into our lives to CONNECT with us, teach us, and show us how to be successful on our journey” (Wilkes 29). <– Hey Jules! You just got MLA cited!!! 

The assignment for me then is to find people in my life who are challenging me and strengthening me to become the best version of myself possible. This actually wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I work very hard to surround myself with good people that are constantly working to become the best versions of themselves. Watching people grow inspires me to do the same. So yes, it was easy to recognize that there are many people in my life who support my growth, but identifying exactly how they have fostered growth and change became the challenge.

These are 2 of my Life Coaches:

Amee

  • I know I have written about Amee before, but this entry wouldn’t be complete without mentioning her. In a few short years, Amee has truly become the big sister I never had. She is a beautiful spirit whom I look up to and strive to emulate in many ways. One of the biggest lessons Amee has taught me seems simple enough: Don’t be a jerk. I mean, this shouldn’t even be a lesson! This is just a common sense rule, right?!? Wellllll, I’ve needed some reminding of this rule and Amee has done it with a verbal smack to the back of the head, followed by a reassuring hug. A few years ago (Wow, time has FLOWN!), I was dating this guy, Mike. We would date for a few weeks (I think maybe once we made it past the 1 month count), break up for a few more and then get back together. Through an entire year of this, Amee was by my side for the happy times that Mike and I were together, the frustrating times while we were together, the devastating times when we were apart and finally, the sad, yet also exciting time that we broke up for good. She was happy when I was happy and understood my pain when I was sad. And what did I do to repay her for this kindness? I skipped her birthday party. It may sound childish, but for my group of friends, birthdays are a BIG deal, especially so for Amee, being a FREAKING cancer survivor and all! Here’s what happened: Mike and I were broken up for most of summer 2012, but were spending a lot of time together. At the end of the summer, right around Amee’s birthday, a weekend camping trip had been planned that I figured, if I could get Mike to invite me on, we’d have a blast and end up back together. Well, long story short(er??), that happened, but it came at the cost of missing Amee’s birthday because I put my relationship with Mike ahead of my friendship with her. And her feelings were rightfully hurt. Believe me, I still feel awful about it. I can’t remember any of Amee’s exact words to me about my decision to miss her birthday, but after all was said and done, I had learned my lesson. Guys come and go. Amee will be there forever. But don’t take advantage of that. Love her like the sister she is and don’t be a jerk.
  • Side note: One of the reasons Amee is a great coach in my life is because she isn’t afraid to call me out on my bullshit. She’s the first to sing my praises when I’ve accomplished a challenge, but she’s also the first (and sometimes only) to tell me I’m being a jerk, dumb, too sensitive, etc. I think that’s a wonderful quality in a friend, because I might not know that I’m experiencing a growing challenge if no one tells me.

Shelly

  • My friendship with Shelly started off a bit rocky. I met Shelly at my first big-girl, post-college job. We worked at a local campus newspaper. I was the Executive Assistant to the publisher (it sounds WAAAAY cooler than it was) and Shelly was a Graphic Artist/Layout Designer. One of my job duties was payroll every 2 weeks. Why my boss had the person who was paid the least dole out everyone else’s paychecks is beyond me. But it gave me insider information as to who made how much money. And guess whose paycheck was bigger than mine each week! SHELLY! So before I even knew her, I hated her. No, it’s not fair, but I was young and dumb and hadn’t met Amee yet, so I didn’t know not to be a jerk (makes sense, right??). I know that Shelly will ream me if I don’t include this portion of my jerkiness: I was such a jerk that a few of the other staff members and I would go to lunch once a week and I wouldn’t invite Shelly. I know. I was a jerk. Again,  I still feel awful about it. Eventually, Shelly and I began talking and discovered that (SHOCKING!) we were both young college grads that enjoyed the same things. I opened myself to her friendship (I know, I’m SUCH a martyr!) and we quickly became best friends. As happens with many friendships, they go through phases of being together 24/7 and seeing each other a few times a month. Last month (as you all SHOULD know! 😉 ) was my birthday. The party was wonderful, but ended in me having WAAAAAY too much to drink (it was an embarrassing, novice move. I accidentally skipped dinner and then gave in to way too many shots). For the past few months, Shelly and I had only been seeing each other maybe once a month. It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other, our schedules were just different. But there she was, at my party, taking care of my drunk ass.
  • Shelly’s Heroics include (but are not limited to):
    • Alerting me to the fact that it was past time to go home.
    • Finding my coat and putting it on me.
    • Assigning someone to carry me down the stairs.
    • Pulling her car up to the door and tossing me in it.
    • Having a plastic bag on hand in the car for any “emergencies.”
    • Once home, locating my pajamas and dressing me in them (even though my shirt was on backwards!).
    • Assuring me that even though I didn’t have my phone, friends were looking for it.
    • The next morning: Arriving at my house with my phone, McDonald’s breakfast and memories to fill in the blanks where I was a little lost.
  • Lesson learned: Don’t discount your friends just because they’re not around as much as they once were. It might have been easy to look at my friendship with Shelly and just assume we weren’t as good of friends as we once were and be concerned or even hurt by it, but she showed me otherwise with a delicious Egg McMuffin. 😉

I am blessed beyond words by the people in my life. I could go on and on and on about the lessons they’ve taught me and how they have helped me grow into a woman I am proud to be. But for the purpose of brevity, I will leave it to these beautiful women!

SO WHAT??? How will I make changes to connect with my Life Coaches?

  • I will continue to be open to the lessons my people bring into my life.
  • In addition to my once-a-week phone date goal I made for my last Miracle, I will also thank 1 person a week for a lesson learned from them.
  • Pay It Forward: I will allow myself to be open to others and use my life experiences, both good and bad, to help my friends learn something from me.

Now it’s your turn! What lessons have your life coaches taught you? How can you pay it forward?

“The strongest individuals are the ones who ask for help, offer help, and enjoy the journey of learning with others.” – Julie Wilkes

Twinsies!!! I never leave home without my book!

Twinsies!!! I never leave home without my book!

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ALL THE LINKS!!!

  • My thoughts on Miracle 1: Embrace HERE!
  • Check out everything Julie Wilkes HERE!
  • The 7 Life Miracles on Facebook!
  • Seven Studios on Facebook!
  • Learn about The 7 Life Miracles book HERE!
  • Preorder The 7 Life Miracles  on Amazon HERE!
  • Can’t wait until February 25th?? Neither could I! Check availability at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and get it now HERE!

The 7 Life Miracles: Embrace

My dear friend Julie Wilkes has written a book, The 7 Life Miracles! I will be working through her book and journaling my experiences as I go. For more information on the book and what I intend to do here, please check out THIS POST!

7 Life Miracles

Miracle 1

Embrace

Seize the day.

Make your life extraordinary.

Today’s chapter is all about embracing our lives as an unexpected gift. Many of us go to bed each night, expecting to wake up in the morning and go about our days. I am certainly one of these people. I have been very fortunate in my health to allow myself to expect to wake up each new morning. Sure, I have had bouts of illnesses throughout my life (who hasn’t?!), but nothing that would truly cause me to even consider that I might not see tomorrow. Even so, each day really is a gift. Whether I view each new morning as a gift because I am part of the world again, or if it is a gift because, among many small trials and challenges throughout the day, most days do not involve giant blows to my happiness.

However I choose to view them, I need to be more conscious of the gifts each day brings and embrace the blessings that they are. In The 7 Life Miracles, Julie instructs readers to ask themselves, If you were told you only had a limited about of time in your life, what would you change? She then provides a list of things to consider and recommends focusing on just a few that “resonate with where you are in your life right now.”

My Daily Embracings:

  • How I treat my personal time: At the end of my typical day, after a full day (7am-4pm) of work and some sort of workout, all I want to do is have dinner in front of the TV. Whether it’s Detective (ohhh…she’s a Sergeant now!) Olivia Benson’s hard hitting law enforcement, the secret identity of “A,” or the dramas behind the operating room doors (yes, I still watch Grey’s!), I need something simple and mind-numbing to simply chill out to. Well, 1 show becomes 2, and before I know it, I’ve stayed up way too late wondering why Columbus doesn’t have a crime lab like the one in Las Vegas (I will never give up on CSI!). As much as my mind needs some serious down time, I need to focus on limiting it so I can get to the other bazillion things on my to-do list.

I will limit my evening TV watching to no more than TWO shows per night!

  • Are there people you cherish with whom you have lost touch? My life has been blessed with amazing people. And as I have been told and have told others, “friendships wax and they wane” – they go through phases. My girlfriends that I rarely went 24 hours without talking to, I now catch up with once a month. It’s not for a lack of love or interest in their lives, it’s simply that my life changes and so does theirs. Sometimes our life paths are right next to each other, and other times, they’re a continent apart.

Every Monday, I will choose a friend I haven’t talked with in awhile and set up a phone/Skype/face-to-face date.

  • Would you shift your priorities to place emphasis on different things in your day? Some days I don’t have a moment to focus on the bright spots in my day. I go from work to the gym to Alternative Fashion Mob meetings to home to the shower to the kitchen to the microwave to the couch and to bed. PHEW! With all these obligations, many of which I have chosen to have in my life, I forget to stop and focus on how blessed I truly am. I can get so tired, stressed and overwhelmed that my life becomes one giant #firstworldproblem instead of a beaming #firstworldblessing. 

Every night before bed, no matter how tired I am, I will take a few moments to thank God for the good things that happened that day. I will take the time to write these things down so I can look back on them when my days become especially trying.

    • I am also quick to forget or neglect that there is a creature in my life that just wants my love and attention, a little bit each day. My Boston Terrier, Dewey, is never forgotten, but I get so wrapped up in my own life, that I don’t tend to his emotional needs. Yes, he gets fed and let out and cuddled, but the little guy needs some play time!! His #1 priority in his life is making me happy. Why shouldn’t I do the same for him? (Granted, it’s easier to take him outside for some Dewey Time when it’s not Snowpocalypsing outside!)

Everyday when I get home, I will dedicate 30 minutes of my day to Dewey. Whether this means taking him on a walk or playing ball in the house, he will get my undivided attention beyond the cuddling that I am usually in desperate need of!

Now it’s your turn! How will you embrace each day??

“Change doesn’t come easily, and it won’t happen just because you want it to.” – Julie Wilkes

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ALL THE LINKS!!!

  • Check out everything Julie Wilkes HERE!
  • The 7 Life Miracles on Facebook!
  • Seven Studios on Facebook!
  • Learn about The 7 Life Miracles book HERE!
  • Preorder The 7 Life Miracles  on Amazon HERE!
  • Can’t wait until February 25th?? Neither could I! Check availability at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and get it now HERE!

The 7 Life Miracles

I am incredibly blessed to be friends with some pretty amazing people. In my close circle of friends, there are people who have

…and that’s just a handful of my people!

I am  overjoyed and proud to say that I can now add to that list a friend that has become a published author! Julie Wilkes is one of my hardest corest (yes, that’s a thing!) physical trainers. Last year, she opened Seven Studios, a yoga/pilates/Insanity/whatever-will-kick-your-ass studio. I began attending her classes because another dear friend, Alexander McAfee-Chang, told me I had to experience her classes. And no one says no to The Chang. No one.

And as always with workout related topics, he was right. Not only did Julie’s classes challenge me physically, but she has this unique ability to challenge your spirit as well. Julie’s entire workout theory is based on a system of beliefs she has experienced and wrangled into a philosophy called The 7 Life Miracles. She took this idea and turned it into a self-help workshop wherein she worked with people to live their lives to the fullest. Many people had success with her program and they wanted to share it with their friends – thus was born Julie’s first (of many to come, I assume!) book and my latest Goodreads add.

In her book Julie “breaks down the excuses or ‘stories’ that create road blocks and opens up the possibility of what your life looks like when you share the gifts, talents and passions that are locked inside of you.” Now, I will admit, I am not usually the self-help book kind of gal. Not that I am against or don’t believe in bettering myself through literature, I just haven’t really put the effort into improving myself through that medium before. I am reading and putting serious effort into Julie’s book not only because she is a friend (but yes, this is the biggest reason!), but because I have experienced tiny bits of her miracles “theory” before. Whether it has been through asking class participants to “think of someone they adore and let them know about it this week” or not taking life for grated and living each day like it’s our one and only or simply looking outside of ourselves and doing good for someone else, Julie’s Miracles have already touched and improved my life.

In The 7 Life Miracles, each Miracle section has a journal entry prompt in which Julie asks the reader to seriously think about what they have just read and how they can put it to use in their daily life. Now THIS is something I can get behind! Blogging = Journaling! As a way to keep myself accountable and share my experiences, I am going to use my blog as my journal. In the beginning of her book, Julie suggests the reader picks a journal that “has an inspirational quote on the front, a colorful tapestry in the binding, or anything that makes {the reader} look forward to using it.” Uhhh….what’s more exciting than my pretty, little blog here?? I’m always excited to tap on these keys and share my thoughts, whether it’s for my own benefit or the benefit of my readers (hopefully both)!

I am not going to set a time limit for my entries, because we all know how that goes for me…But instead, I am just going to write as I proceed and process through my Miracles.

I am hoping that by reading my journal entires, you will be inspired and encouraged to pick up your own copy of the book and join my adventure! I truly believe that this will be something that will be best experienced with others. We can share our challenges, successes, ideas…all of it! I know that I am looking forward to sharing this exercise with my people – and I would love for you to join us!

ALL THE LINKS!!!

  • Check out everything Julie Wilkes HERE!
  • The 7 Life Miracles on Facebook!
  • Seven Studios on Facebook!
  • Learn about The 7 Life Miracles book HERE!
  • Preorder The 7 Life Miracles  on Amazon HERE!
  • Can’t wait until February 25th?? Neither could I! Check availability at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and get it now HERE!

After a Pilates/Yoga Fusion Class at Seven!

 

Ending Up Helping :: Birthday Girl’s Choice

So I didn’t exactly write a blog a day…and for that I am honestly only mildly disappointed. I learned a lot about many local and national charities and I was able to pass this on to my students! As I mentioned earlier, I had my juniors do a project in which they were required to research one charity and interview someone involved with the organization. Some of my students took this assignment and ran with it! They chose things that meant something to them (Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Huckleberry House, Wounded Warrior, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Stonewall Columbus…I could go on!) and learned how to support these causes and why they are important. Other students…well…they just weren’t inspired. “I chose the Ronald McDonald House because I like McDonald’s.” I guess that’s a start! Oi veh…

One part of this idea that I did take VERY seriously was choosing one philanthropy to donate my own time and/or money to. And I’ve decided…

San Salvador Missions Trip with Rock City Church

Recently I have been searching for a church home. I grew up going to one Lutheran church until 9th grade, when I switched to a different Lutheran church where many of my high school peers attended. When I hit college, I pretty much stopped going to church altogether, other than when I was home on break. I tried different churches on my campus, but none of them were as good as my home church. I felt like my spirit wasn’t being fed, so I just quit trying (I don’t recommend this method, by the way). After college, I went back to that home church. A few years later, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (one branch of the Lutheran churches) voted that if a person was in a committed, monogamous homosexual relationship, they COULD be a pastor! HOLY YAY!!!!! (Literally!). Well, my home church did not feel the YAY as much as I did. They decided to put to a vote whether or not the church would stay part of the ELCA or leave (thus stating that they were against gays being able to be pastors in our church). Guess who could vote? People of a certain age that had tithed a certain number of times. Guess who couldn’t vote? Me. And most of my peers. One of my favorite memories of this time (okay, I wasn’t there for it, but I can imagine what it was like) was when my mom went to a forum to express why voting to leave the ELCA was ludicrous. As she stood up to speak, two elderly women behind her were heard whispering to each other, “Oh, that’s the woman that is friends with those gays.”

BAHAHAHA! Hell yeah she was! God, I miss her.

I digress…needless to say, it was time for me to leave my home church and find a new home. After much searching and wrestling with what’s important to me in a church, I landed in a seat at Rock City Church.  

Rock City Church is a newish church in Columbus, almost 3 years old. They don’t actually have their own building. They use movie theaters (specifically the Lennox and Regal theaters) as their worship halls. I know this sounds kinda weird, but in all actuality, it rocks. They have a full rock band that performs in front of the giant screen while the lyrics are projected behind them. The band is so loud and so rocking that the church offers earplugs for more sensitive listeners. To expand their audience, Rock City live streams the pastor’s message from the main theater in Lennox to another theater down the hall and another theater across the city at the Regal Cinema! The Regal Cinema has their own band, but they get to hear the same message from across the city. How 21st century is that??

The set is a little more elaborate now, this is from their opening day, but you get the idea!

The set is a little more elaborate now, this is from their opening day, but you get the idea!

My favorite part of church is the music. When I can close my eyes, sing along and rock out my worship to Jesus, that’s when I’m most connected. I recently learned that ONE SONG at Rock City can last as long as 15 minutes!! I had NO clue!! It certainly doesn’t feel that long! Every time I leave Rock City, I feel good! The message sticks with me through the week and actually affects my daily living.

You might have seen our pastor Chad in last month’s 614 Magazine!

I realized Rock City was worth a hard look as a possible home church when one week, I “accidentally” planted myself next to this fabulously sweet gay man (who happens to be a teacher as well!) and the next week I saw one of my college sorority sisters sitting alone before the service! Josie and I reconnected and she seemed just as interested as I was. Just like any activity that requires commitment, having a buddy definitely helps. Josie encouraged me to join her for the Rock City Connect classes, where you get to learn more about the church.

Well, one thing led to another, and I had decided that Rock City was the church for me. I don’t think I can ever be 100% sure about a church. The church changes and I change, so who knows how long this will be my home, but for now, it’s the perfect fit.

Getting Involved

Since I had finally found a new church home, I wanted to be involved and stay connected. Here’s where the charity part FINALLY comes into play! It has been 9 long years since I have left the country (Canada doesn’t count). I have been wanting to see more of the world for years, but haven’t made saving money a priority. Well, now I’m going to pay it forward AND see the world all in one swoop.

In just a few short months,  June 7th – June 15th 2014, I will be joining a short-term missions trip to San Salvador, El Salvador with people from Rock City Church and our partner church, the Great Commission Latin America. Because of generous donations, Rock City Church was able to fund and finish construction on a Child Development Center in 2013. At the center, 120 children are provided with healthy meals, medical and dental care, education, Jesus, and hope.

San Sal Promo

Our role during this trip will be to serve the community through working with the children, assisting in the health clinic and possibly some construction work. We will share the love and message of Jesus Christ and build relationships with people that are eager to share their life stories and hear why we have the hope we have.

In order for me to go on this trip, I will need some serious prayer warriors. I am learning to “Pray BIG!” God can handle my big prayers. So I am asking people to pray that I allow God to use me for His will, not my own, on this trip. I’m not sure in what way God will use me on this trip, but I hope not only to be a blessing to those I encounter, but also to be blessed by this new experience.

I must admit that I am a little nervous. I feel like this is a quick decision, even though I’ve been thinking and praying about it for almost 2 months now. I trust that this is something God wants me to do and that he will use me to His benefit. I’ve also never been to a Spanish speaking country before! So, I’m learning Spanish! I took French in high school, and I’m finding that background knowledge does help a little! I will be going on this adventure with a brand new group of people. Sure, I’m pretty good at making friends, but it’s still a little nerve racking, even for me!

So as I prepare for this trip over the next 4 months, please pray, send good karma, whatever it is you do! I am so excited for this experience and I can’t wait to tell you all about it, from planning and preparation to the actual trip!

As Jesus once said, “¡Ve!”

(I’m told that means to command someone to “GO!”)

Confession: I had to look up where El Salvador is...

Confession: I had to look up where El Salvador is…

 

Please watch the video below to see where I will be and to meet Nelson, one of the Salvadorian children benefitting from Rock City’s efforts:

Ending Up Helping :: January 22nd :: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

I know, I know…so much for blogging every day! As it turns out, trying to blog every day during your birthday month is extremely hard! I’ve been super busy and not able to dedicate the proper amount of time to my blog that each post deserves. Even so, I have learned so much about charities, what they do, how they work and why we need to support them.

GUESS WHAT!!

Yesterday was my birthday, and in honor of that, I am highlighting a charity that DIRECTLY affects the family of one of my bestest friends in the entire world, Kristen.

Picture a typical teenage girl, right around the age of 14. She loves boys, puppies, and sunny days. It’s the day of her favorite cousin’s wedding – a New Year’s Eve wedding! It’s mere hours away from being 2012! She is a junior bridesmaid and gets to get her hair and makeup done along with the rest of the girls! But instead of gabbing and drinking (virgin!) mimosas with her fellow bridesmaids, Kate is sitting, listening to her iPod while an electric vest vibrates her entire torso, shaking her lungs free of thick mucous that could severely inhibit her breathing. She insists that the daily 90 minutes of various treatments really aren’t so bad.

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited disease that affective the lungs and digestive system. It is a “life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly the lungs and pancreas. When mucus clogs the lungs, it can make breathing very difficult. The thick mucus also causes bacteria (or germs) to get stuck in the airways, which causes inflammation (or swelling) and infections that lead to lung damage.

Mucus also can block the digestive tract and pancreas. The mucus stops digestive enzymes from getting to the intestines. The body needs these enzymes to break down food, which provides important nutrients to help people grow and stay healthy. People with cystic fibrosis often need to replace these enzymes with medicine they take with their meals and snacks, which helps them digest food and get proper nutrition.

When it comes to “getting” CF, it is all in your genes. When I asked Kristen about this, she said “It’s a basic Punnett Square!” My verbal response was “Oh yeah! I remember that from high school biology! Totally. Got it.” My inner response was, “Uhhh….I know I remember learning that, buuutttt….what?” So, if you’re like me and don’t exactly remember 10th grade biology, here ya go:

A Basic Punnett Square for CF:

How this can be interpreted (blonde version):

C- normal allele

c- allele with CF mutation

In this example, each child would have:

25% chance of being unaffected with Cystic Fibrosis (CC)

50% chance of being a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis (Cc)

25% chance of being affected with Cystic Fibrosis (cc)

Because of the thick mucous, Kate has to work harder than her field hockey teammates just to be able to breathe, let alone breathe deeply while exercising. But does that stop her? Hell no.

“It’s definitely harder running. My lung capacity is smaller, so running is harder and I cough more when I’m running,” said Kate, who played varsity as a freshman and has started the last two seasons. “It’s harder to breathe, but I don’t notice it unless I am sick or have a lung infection.”

Years ago, the life expectancy for people with CF was only elementary school age. A person with CF can expect to live “into their 30s, 40s and beyond” today, thanks to research funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The CF Foundation has funded more “research than any other organization, and nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of Foundation support.” Their “focus is to support the development of new drugs to fight the disease, improve the quality of life for those with CF, and ultimately to find a cure.”

Not only does the CF Foundation fund research, but they also advocate for people living with CF. They work to keep CF funding at the forefront of the government’s mind.

Kristen’s 21-year-old cousin Matthew (older brother to Kate) is currently participating in a 2-year clinical trial, Vertex 809 with Kalydeco, funded by the foundation that is changing the face of this disease. It is the first drug to treat the underlying cause of CF. Matthew’s health improves daily because of the medication.

Wanna contribute to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation??

Donors can feel good about their contribution because of trials like the one Matthew is participating in. Money goes towards the trials that are are directly lengthening and saving people’s lives, NOT into the administrative pockets. Click HERE to donate and HERE to see exactly where each dollar goes.

Every year in Columbus, the local CF Foundation chapter hosts a bevy of fundraising events. One of these events is hosted by Matthew and Kate’s parents, Tom & Marie – the Hennessey Family Fore-Love Golf Outing. Played at Brookside Country Club, “a shotgun start begins a day of great golf, food and entertainment. Raffles, live and silent auction and a fabulous dinner round out the event.” Kristen and her family volunteer at the event in support of Matthew and Kate.

Kristen & Kate "Play today for more Tomorrows"

Kristen & Kate
“Play today for more Tomorrows”

Andrew, Kristen, Kate & Matthew at the Fore Love Dinner

Andrew, Kristen, Kate & Matthew at the Fore Love Dinner

The Fore Love event is just one of many fundraising opportunities available. If you are in or near the Columbus area, you can check out the event calendar HERE!

Not in CBus?? BUMMER! 😉 Click HERE to find your local CF Foundation chapter!

Matthew and Kate refuse to allow their cystic fibrosis hold them back. Matthew is studying Political Science at Ohio State University and has had internships in Washington, DC and Columbus. Kate is finishing her junior year of high school and hopes to play field hockey at Georgetown, following in her mother’s footsteps.

“I have never been held back. I’m definitely a doer, never a quitter…I think (having cystic fibrosis) helps me. It pushes me to persevere a lot more. It’s how I overcome things. I can do this and nothing’s going to hold me back.”

You go, girl!

*******

All information was obtained from www.cff.org and The Upper Arlington News

Find CFF: Columbus Chapter on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CFFCentralOH