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)

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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!

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

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

Ending Up Helping :: January 13th :: Amethyst, Inc.

I have watched enough episodes of Intervention and heard enough personal stories to understand that addiction does not only hurt the person with the addiction; it affects their entire family and all of their friends. I have also experienced enough of life to learn that homelessness isn’t always a voluntary outcome. Pair the two, addiction and homelessness, together, and it adds up to what can seem like a hopeless situation.

If someone suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction is fortunate enough to realize they needs a lifestyle change, making that change on their own truly may not be an option.

Amethyst, Inc.

“Amethyst’s goal is to help women, children, and families achieve lifelong sobriety, healthy relationships, permanent housing, and economic stability through gender-specific programs and services that combine alcohol and drug treatment with supportive housing for homeless women.”

When a woman carries around an addiction while trying to be a mother, wife, or other caregiver, she can often begin to feel a deep failure in the role as caregiver. But because addiction holds such a type grip on its victims, these women may not know how to face it. Amethyst provides gender-specific treatments and therapies to help these women.

Beyond helping only the women fighting addiction, Amethyst serves the families they are trying to preserve. The children living at Amethyst receive babysitting, homework help, tutoring, therapy, and education on how to avoid a life of addiction.

“Addiction, poverty, and violence have the propensity to perpetuate themselves generation after generation. Children raised in families coping with these problems struggle academically and miss more days of school than their counterparts. They’re also likely to display emotional and mental challenges, which can create barriers to academic and social success.

Amethyst’s goal is to break the generational cycle. We provide a healthy environment combined with supportive and therapeutic services designed with children’s needs in mind.”

When a parent suffers from addiction, one result may be family separation. This can permanently damage the family unit, or with special care and hard work, the families can re-bond and learn to forgive and move forward.

“Many families at Amethyst have experienced family disruption caused by the extended parent/child separation that can result from addiction, mental illness, poverty, and criminal involvement. At Amethyst, we believe in reunifying these families. Our family-centered programs promote meaningful family dialogue, increase parent knowledge, and encourage parental involvement in the development and education of their children, giving all family members the support they need to reconnect with each other.”

What Amethyst Does Works

Valerie’s Story

“Thirteen years ago, I would never have imagined that there would be a place that would help me heal from my hurt and teach me how to cope with life’s situation the same situations that, during the height of my addiction, would have triggered me to get high

Today, I am a woman that helps others see their own dreams. I am the woman that lets others know there are people and services that can help them. I will never be able to repay Amethyst for giving me back my life, my children, and my family. I am still learning from the friendships I developed at Amethyst. The women I met there are my sisters. We have shared stories, and we know that it is through Amethyst that we will grow and be strong. When most people have a series of bad life experiences, they say that they are happy to have their old life back. Well, I don’t want my old life back. Amethyst gave me a new life, one that I never thought I could have.”

After women “graduate” from the program and become alumnae, many decide to stay on and help those who come behind them. The alumnae are able to offer success stories, be a person who will listen and truly understand and inspire other women to persevere.

Wanna contribute to Amethyst, Inc.??

Because Amethyst is a home where women and their children live, the list of needed items more likely to grow rather than shrink. If you would like to donate items to the Amethyst House, please click here for an idea of what is needed most.

If a monetary donation speaks to your heart, you can be assured that your money will go towards ensuring the survival of mothers and children recovering from addiction here in Columbus. Please click here to donate.

“Our volunteers are lifesavers. Literally.” If you’re looking to save some lives, please volunteer! Click here for more information.

Unfortunately, it can be very easy to judge a person based on their addiction alone. But if we take a moment to see beyond the addiction, and into who that person really is, not only might they survive, but their family is given another chance at survival as well.

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All information was obtained from www.amethyst-inc.org.

Find Amethyst, Inc. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Amethystinc.

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 12th ::Project Zero Ohio

“Imagine you were diagnosed with a lethal virus. Now imagine knowing there were potentially life-saving medications available, but you couldn’t afford them — and any resources set up to assist you had been exhausted. Sadly, for hundreds of Central Ohioans, they don’t have to imagine; this is their reality.”

 Project Zero Ohio (P:ZO)

I am so very fortunate that any time I have suffered from any sort of illness, there has been some medical cure. Whether it was a stomach ailment, ear infection, poison ivy, the flu, bronchitis, pink eye, or some other affliction, a doctor has always been able to prescribe a remedy and either I or my parents could afford it.

For Central Ohioans diagnosed with AIDS, the cure is expensive, if available at all.

“Physician Randy Sharma, entrepreneur Steven Weaver, and gay activist/”Super Drag Queen” Nina West joined forces to help raise funds for local HIV/AIDS charities and resources. The idea is simple: to donate proceeds from customized, locally-crafted products to help assure that zero HIV/AIDS patients in the Greater Columbus Area go without the services they need.

To raise funds for this simple and incredibly important idea, local artists and business donate funds from the sales of their products to P:ZO. The initial product was a Rainbow Candle created by a partnership between Columbus’ Candle Lab and Nina West. Stinkybomb Soaps created a Pride Soap of all the rainbow colors and most recently, artist AmyD created a custom P:ZO coffee mug sleeve for the cause.

pzo

Wanna contribute to the Project Zero Ohio??

Aside from purchase P:ZO affiliated products, you can donate directly to the cause. If you are interested in donating you can do so through PayPal HERE!

There are various opportunities for volunteering through events, product launches and more. To let the P:ZO folks know that you’re interested, please fill out the quick ‘n easy form HERE!

Plans are still in the works for a High Heel Run hosted by the Alternative Fashion Mob. One of the benefiting charities will be P:ZO. This will be another super fun way to support local AIDS patients! Stay Tuned for more info!

AIDS is an unforgiving, awful illness that touches more people than we may realize. By purchasing Project Zero Ohio products, you are helping to calm the fears of someone who may not have much hope for a cure, and doesn’t everyone deserve some hope?

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All information was obtained from www.projectzeroohio.com.

Find P:ZO on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Zero-Ohio/194772307241509

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 8th :: Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio

No matter how old I get or how many years pass after my mom’s death, the moment I start feeling sick, my mind immediately calls for my mom. I had many stomach illnesses growing up, all of which went undiagnosed. Most of my 5th grade year was spent feeling nauseous, sometimes puking, sometimes not. But guess who was there to hold my hair and wipe my tears EVERY time??

Mom.

I remember one night, I must’ve been about 7 or 8, walking into my parent’s room in the middle of the night because my stomach hurt. Immediately jumping to the call of duty, Mom took my hand and led me to her bathroom. She poured the familiar looking pink medicine and told me to drink it.

“Mom, this smells funny…I don’t want it.”

“It’s medicine! It’s supposed to smell funny! Just drink it!”

So I did. IT was right at that moment that my dear, sweet mother’s eyes adjusted to the light and she realized she had poured me Calamine lotion and NOT Pepto Bismol.

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Mom immediately called Poison Control. They instructed her to make me drink lots and lots of water and that the wrong medicine would come right back up. They were right! Mom sat up with me all night, making sure I was really okay.

Even with a few bumps in the road, I can’t imagine being sick as a child without my mom there to tell me everything would be okay and hold me until I fell asleep.

See?? It would be an easy mistake to make in the middle of the night!

See?? It would be an easy mistake to make in the middle of the night! Right??

Thanks to the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, kids all across the city, state, and even neighboring states don’t have to be sick without their moms, dads and family nearby.

Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio

RMDH

The Ronald McDonald House (RMHC) started in Philadelphia about 38 years ago when a local man’s daughter was going through cancer treatments. He and the little girl’s mom spent day after day, night after night on benches in the hospital. This man was Fred Hill, a player for the Philadelphia Eagles. Fred turned to his manager and expressed that no one should have to have a long-term hospital experience like they did. They were close friends with Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder, and he was able to turn Fred’s idea into a place of comfort and support in a family’s greatest time of need.

“The first Ronald McDonald House in Columbus opened on 18th Street in March 1982 when an old apartment building was purchased and renovated. The new facility was met with a great deal of excitement from the local community, and especially the new partner Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”

The RMHC of Central Ohio provides a place close to the hospital where families can stay over night, eat a hot, home-cooked meal, and receive support from other families experiencing the same trials. Families are asked to donate $20 per night, but no one is every turned away because they cannot afford the donation.

Wanna contribute to the The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio??

“Each year, nearly 3,000 families stay at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, spending over 20,000 nights at our home-away-from-home.”

Because of this large number and a small operating staff, The Columbus RMCH could not function daily without volunteers. Volunteering opportunities include:

Special Events Volunteer
Volunteer at any of our special fundraising events throughout the year.

and

Housewarming Volunteers:
Work with our guests to provide a home-like environment – greet, assist with family needs, answer phones, give tours, assist with checkin/checkout, prepare guest rooms after checkout, clean facility, laundry, restock supplies and staff the front desk.”

Click HERE to apply!

One of the really neat volunteering opportunities involves preparing, making and serving dinner to the families stay at The House. I think it would be so fun and so rewarding to get a group of friends together and cook a meal at The RMCH and then be able to serve the families as well. If you’re interested in this, please click HERE!

Since staying at the RMHC of Central Ohio is like staying at home, the center needs all kinds of household items. Click HERE for their wishlist! Your donations here help keep the RMCH feeling like home.

Sometimes it’s just as easy and rewarding to know your money is going towards keeping a family together during a child’s serious illness. Please click HERE to donate monetarily.

Now that I no longer have my mom around to comfort me when I am sick, I can pay it forward by helping to support an organization that keeps families together when they need each other the most.

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EVERYONE LOVES A WINNER!!!

The RMHC of Central Ohio has a contest going on through March 16th! They are trying to win $100,000 for the 3rd year in a row by voting for Coach Matta at VoteCoachMatta.com. This contest will allow the RMCH to continue serving families of seriously-ill children!

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

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All information was obtained from www.rmhc-centralohio.org

Find the RMHC of Central Ohio on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RMHCofCentralOhio

Check out the the RMHC of Central Ohio blog HERE!

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 7th :: Kaleidoscope Youth Center

Anyone who knows me at all knows that at all times, I have an entourage of gay men around me, and if not, I can get ahold of one in a moment’s notice. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m not sure how or why this close friendship with the gay community intrigues me, but it has and my life is the better for it.

Here’s some of my entourage (with Granny!)

Because so many of my closest friends and family are gay, whenever someone tries to pick on them, say nasty things, or deny them their rights, it hurts me on a very personal level. I have many gay students and I want them to know that people are out there trying to make a brighter future for them.

But until then…

Kaleidoscope Youth Center

“Kaleidoscope Youth Center is the only organization in Ohio solely dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies. Founded in 1994, Kaleidoscope is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.  The mission of Kaleidoscope Youth Center is to work in partnership with young people in Central Ohio to create safe and empowering environments for LGBTQ youth through advocacy, education and support.”

In world where being gay is not quite universally accepted, kids and teenagers need a place where they can go for support and friendship. Many times, they do not have friends or family they can turn to in times of struggle. Unfortunately, this can lead to the needless stories of suicide that are spread across the internet each year. This is why Kaleidoscope is so very important.

“Our vision is to promote and support self-confident, healthy, productive lives for LGBTQ youth as they transition from adolescence into adulthood…For the past three years, Kaleidoscope has been able to develop additional programs offering self-esteem, health and wellness programs and assistance with Gay Straight Alliances in Columbus City Schools, and Franklin County schools, along with those in contiguous counties. Kaleidoscope Youth Center utilizes proven “youth development” strategies in its after-school program.”

Kaleidoscope is a center where kids can go to hang out with their peers, find information on healthy living, and have a mentor to turn to in times of need. But not only does Kaleidoscope cater to the youth of the city, but they train adults as well. They provide education services to people with a desire to mentor and support gay youths in their lives. The center provides information to questions like:

  • Creating an Inclusive Classroom
  • How Can I Be Supportive of a Transgender Person?
  • Someone Came Out to Me. Now What Do I Do?
  • LGBTQ Books (Non-fiction and Fiction)
  • LGBTQ Films (Documentary and Feature)
  • Inclusive Classroom Activities

Wanna contribute to Kaleidoscope??

Just look for the BIG blue arrow!!

Contributing to the Kaleidoscope Youth Center is easy and absolutely appreciated!

“Our physical space is a safe haven for our youth and we want to make them as comfortable as possible.  We provide games, a free lending library, a fully-stocked kitchen, a cyber center and lots more to make this their “home”.  As anyone with teenagers knows, this can be quite an undertaking!”

Kaleidoscope provides an online “Wishlist” of items needed for the center. I actually prefer the idea of donating a specific item, because then I know exactly how my donation is being used. Click HERE for the Kaleidoscope Wishlist!

Is a monetary donation more what you were thinking?? PERFECT!

“Growing up can be difficult – growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender can be overwhelming. It is important that those of us who have been there, or know people who have been there, support this generation as we want them to grow into healthy adults with strong self-images. Your gifts help Kaleidoscope Youth Center create and manage empowering programs by and for LGBTQ youth and allies. Support from individual donors is critical. We count on donations from individuals for a substantial portion of our annual budget. “

Click HERE to donate!!

And of course, volunteering is always an option at Kaleidoscope! 

“Volunteers are the backbone of this organization. We could not be where we are today without our dedicated and committed volunteers. Kaleidoscope Youth Center requires over 100 hours of volunteer support each month just to keep our doors open to continue to provide our services to LGBTQ youth.”

Volunteer activities range from Youth Center Volunteers, Special Events Volunteers, Fundraising Volunteers, and Office/Administrative Volunteers!  Please click HERE to apply an get involved!

I sometimes feel as though I live in a beautiful, happy and gay little bubble here in Columbus. I forget that in other places, and heck, even in Columbus, there are still gay people feeling oppression and completely different from everyone around them. We need to show the gay youth that there is a place and a purpose for them in our world. Thanks to organizations like Kaleidoscope, it just keeps getting better.

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All information was obtained from www.kycohio.org

Find Kaleidoscope on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KYCOhio

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 6th :: Happy Anniversary!

Hoooollllly crap. This blog turned a year old today!!! Where has time gone?!? I looked back on my first post on Ending Up Here and sure enough, I am still standing in stilettos. Okay, fine. I’m actually not wearing shoes, but it’s a snow day here in Columbus! Gimme a break!

A year ago today, I was recovering from a year of an on-again, off-again relationship. It felt like things just kept going wrong in my life. I had graduated college with a degree I never intended to use. I worked for 9 months in a job that sent me home crying every night. My mom was sick (again) with cancer. My mom died from cancer. My dad almost died from an infected colon. My best friends were either moving on, moving away, or both.

I just couldn’t understand why God kept throwing challenge after challenge my way. The first few had made me strong enough! I didn’t need anymore strength tests! What was He trying to prove?? I kept asking, why do I keep ending up here – crying, alone in my bed, with an empty box of Merlot?! Why can’t I end up like the happy people? Why can’t I have a strong, reliable man in my life, be smiling because of all of life’s fortunes and drinking celebratory champagne?

Well folks, that’s just not how life works. Perhaps that is one of the lessons God is trying to teach me. Sure, people look happy, and they might really BE happy, but no one’s life is perfect and I certainly shouldn’t expect mine to be either. This past year has been about taking the good with the bad, and not just focusing in on the bad. Yes, I have had some rough times. But I have had a job to pay my bills, a roof over my head, an amazing family that loves and supports me, and a group of badass friends that inspire me daily.

In the past year, I have:

run a half marathon,

Dad & I at the Finish Line!

Dad & I at the Finish Line!

become a calendar girl model,

Amanda & I worked our butts off to win this calendar girl competition!

Amanda & I worked our butts off to win this calendar girl competition!

received my masters in education,

About to click "Submit" for my final assignment!

About to click “Submit” for my final assignment!

experimented (and failed) with burlesque dancing,

{No image necessary!}

seen one of my bestest friends celebrate 5 years of being cancer free,

We've got Goose, Iceman (me!), Maverick, Charlie and...Evel Knievel! It was a Top Gun themed celebration!

We’ve got Goose, Iceman (me!), Maverick, Charlie and…Evel Knievel! It was a Top Gun themed celebration!

become a founding member of Columbus’ Alternative Fashion Mob,

AFM

watched my brother (whom I only met in 2009) marry one of my best friends,

David, Kelli and I

found out I get to be an auntie to yet another best friend’s baby this May,

rediscovered that I am an independent, self-sufficient woman,

photo 1 (1)

and had a kickass time doing it.

Just a FEW of the people that made this past year so memorable!

Had I stayed in bed with my snotty tissues and empty wine glasses, I would not have had the opportunity to experience all of these wonderful moments.

So instead of focusing on one specific charity today, I am focusing on continuing another year of positive thinking. Yes, donating time and money to a charity is an amazing and selfless thing to do, but why do we do it? Because we have hope for a brighter future in some way. Without hope, donating anything is meaningless. So today, I am focusing on contributing another year of hope to those around me. I want to be a reminder, through my words and my actions, that “ending up here” may be the best place to be.

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 5th :: CAPA Ohio

Just about every girl starts developing plans for her dream wedding right around the age of 5. I think I started planning mine before I even realized that there was supposed to be another person involved. All I heard was “party” and “pretty dress.” Any mention of a “groom” went in one ear and out the other.

My dream wedding plans have evolved over the years. At first, I want to be married in the church my family attended until I was 14. We switched churches, so I decided I should like to be married at my favorite place on Earth…Disney World. In all honesty though, that was my mom’s dream wedding for me. At that point, my dream wedding was on the Florida beach. This was my plan for a long time until I started accumulating amazing friends in Columbus, Ohio. I started realizing that it is more important for all of my friends and family to be at my wedding rather than on the beach. Onto Plan C (or D?). Where in Columbus, Ohio could I have my future fabulous wedding…?? Ah ha! My favorite place in the city would do just fine.

The Ohio Theatre!

My mom and I (and occasionally Dad) spent countless evenings at the Ohio Theatre seeing musicals (Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line, Wicked, Rent, Cats, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Chicago…I could go on!) and even The Nutcracker annually for quite a few years. When I was in high school, some friends introduced me to the Summer Movie Series at the Ohio Theatre. Each summer, old(er) movies are played on a giant projection screen in the theatre!

Because I was spending more and more time at the theatre, I decided to research its history. As it turns out, the Ohio Theatre was almost demolished in 1969! I might not have even had a dream wedding location if it weren’t for CAPA Ohio.

Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA)

The Ohio Theatre was built in 1928 as a magnificent movie house! Just think about going to the movies during the Roaring 20s! Now, we have sterile, yet comfy movie theatre. Back then, going to the movie was an event! Not only did the Ohio show movies, but “During the heyday of vaudeville, many top performers crossed the Ohio’s stage, including Milton Berle, Ray Bolger, Cab Calloway, Buddy Ebsen, Martha Raye, Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, Kate Smith, and a young emcee with a violin named Jack Benny.” 

As if I needed any more reasons to love this theatre, the owner, Thomas W. Lamb, chose Anne Dornan, one of the first women to graduate from the Columbia School of Architecture, to furnish and decorate the place! She searched far and wide, even traveling on African safari to find art and furnishings for the theatre. “Approximately $1,000,000 was spent on art and furnishings — more than the cost of the building itself!” 

In the 1960s, people began moving away from the city and into the suburbs. The lack of traffic around the theatre caused it’s almost-demise and the Ohio Theatre was set for demolition.

CAPA was initially created for the sole purpose of saving the Ohio Theatre. The “Save the Ohio” campaign attracted the attention of many locals and some 2-million dollars was raised to save the theatre. “The newly formed Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) subsequently purchased and renovated the Ohio Theatre…”

Once the Ohio Theatre was saved, CAPA realized there was potential for even more work do be done. 

“CAPA also owns and operates Columbus’ Palace Theatre (1926) and Southern Theatre (1896). The 925-seat Southern Theatre was CAPA’s second major theatre rehabilitation project and reopened in 1998 following a dramatic $10 million renovation…In August 2009, Broadway Across America and CAPA expanded their agreement, increasing CAPA’s responsibilities to include marketing, event management, ticketing, sponsorship, and public relations for all Broadway productions in Columbus. For 40 years, CAPA has brought the best performing artists from all over the world to the communities it serves.”

If you have seen a stage production at one of Columbus’ beautiful theaters, there is a strong chance you have CAPA to thank! The CAPA Summer Movie Series is still one of my favorite Columbus activities! Tickets are not expensive, I get to see movies on the big screen that I may not have seen before, and, as organist Clark Wilson rattles off before each show, I get to “Sit back and relax in the air conditioned splendor of this magnificent old electric pleasure dome!”

Brenton, Rachel & Emily at the CAPA Summer Movie Series 2012

My friends Brenton, Emily & Rachel at the CAPA Summer Movie Series 2012

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering at one of the CAPA theatre is definitely on my bucket list. You only have to be available 2 nights a month, and you get to experience the show and the theatre for free! Volunteering involves ushering for one of numerous shows at the theatre. The only tiny catch is that you have to be able to stand for the entire show, so I should probably do this while I’m still able! If you’re interested in becoming a theatre volunteer, please click HERE!

Donating to CAPA

CAPA makes donating financially definitely worth your while. No matter how much you can offer, you get the benefits of:

  • Exclusive pre-sale for CAPA presentations (ticket limit per show based on donor level)
  • Discounts and special offers on select shows
  • Preferred seating
  • Dine Originals “Out on the Town” discount card

WHAAA?!?! Talk about some serious perks!! Not only do you get these sweet perks, but “Your support allows CAPA to continue to bring the finest of the world’s performing arts to central Ohio stages, helps maintain our historic theatres, and supports shared services and collaborations impacting the cultural vitality of our community.” One of the things that makes CBus such a wonderful place to live is our vibrant art scene. YOU can help to keep it that way!  If you’re interested in donating to CAPA, please click HERE!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Ohio Theatre seats 2,779 people, so you’ll be sure to get an invitation to my wedding someday (hopefully!) soon!

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All information was obtained from www.capa.com

Find CAPA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/capacolumbus

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 4th :: The Dick & Jane Project

A typical day in my high school English class:

“Alright guys, here’s what I need from you. Please write…”

{insert guttural groan of disgust}

“…would you just hear me out before you start groaning at me?? Please write 2 paragraphs about {insert awesome free writing prompt here}.

“Miss A…how many sentences is that?”

“5-8 sentences per paragraph, so 10-16 sentences total.”

“Ohmigod Miss A, that’s just doin’ too much!”

 …and these are 11th and 12th graders complaining about writing TWO paragraph. TWO! Paragraphs! Not two pages. Ugh. Because of student responses like this, I am consistently looking for ways to get students excited about writing.

Enter in…

 The Dick & Jane Project

It’s a simple and badass idea. Teenagers write lyrics and local, professional musicians write the music. Created by Ben Shinabery, Cory Roth and Andy Gallagher, the organization aims to show middle school kids that they have a voice and what they say matters.

 “The Dick & Jane Project provides students with the support they deserve and the confidence they need. We view their writing as legitimate works of art, regarding their lyrics with the same esteem that they hold for their favorite recording artists.”

Whether the individual student is a struggling or advanced writer, there is a place for them in the program. Emerging writers are able to focus on expressing themselves without the obstacles of proper grammar, punctuation or spelling (although these things are important elsewhere 😉 ). Proficient and advanced writers can challenge themselves to express themselves in a way beyond simple, structured sentences and paragraphs.

“In either case, transforming their words into professional recordings allows the students to hear their writing through a medium that was previously unattainable: the radio. When they hear their songs and see the reaction from the community, they realize their true potential and are inspired to want to write more.”

The members of The Dick & Jane Project start by helping students to understand that no matter their writing level, they can be a successful songwriter. After a prewriting sessions, students and musicians work together to brainstorm ideas, the musicians provide feedback on the kids’ lyrics and the students give the musicians ideas towards what the song should sound like.

 “At the end of the workshop, the songs are professionally recorded and mastered before they are made available to the public via: radio airtime on WCBE 90.5 (with more stations coming soon), a CD, and digital downloads for iTunes via Bandcamp. Additionally, the participating bands play a live performance of the songs for the students and community.”

After researching The Dick & Jane Project, I have been truly inspired. This is an amazing project  with the ultimate end goal of helping kids realize their potential as writers. Many students don’t know that what they have to say matters. Whether it’s because they’re not heard at home or not excelling is school and thus looked over (this is a whole other troubling issue), becoming a professionally recorded songwriter can be an imperative outlet for any student.

I promised to focus on the organization in my post, and I think I’ve done that…but I have to mention the involvement of my kinda sorta cousin Andy Dodson (our parents were legit BFFs growing up – basically siblings. And if they WERE siblings, we’d be cousins). Andy is a founding member and I’m on the governance committee of The Dick & Jane Project. Whether it is this group, playing in local band, owning a Columbus recording studio, working behind the scenes at Independents’ Day or doing good for some other local CBus organization, Andy doesn’t have enough hands for everything he is involved in. In all honestly, it is partly his passion that inspired me to get more involved myself! Finding out that The Dick & Jane Project was yet another philanthropy he was involved in did not come as a surprise.

Wanna contribute to the The Dick & Jane Project??

“An easy and effective way for someone to participate with the project is to listen to the songs, become inspired by them, and share them with family and friends. Every song we release can be listened to for free anytime on our song page. Buying music is the most straightforward way to donate to the project.  100% of the proceeds from CD sales go toward facilitating future workshops.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  You get to listen to awesome, catchy, and impactful music.  In return, we’ll facilitate the production of more awesome, catchy, and impactful music. Giving to The Dick & Jane Project is an empowering way to give back to the community by supporting young writers in their quest to inspire the world through their personal expression. We offer unique incentives for individual and group donations, from listening to a professionally recorded song you helped fund to getting to watch, in real time, a song get created.”

Well, that’s pretty bangarang, being able to see a live performance of one of the songs created my the kids and musicians! Although they do not have volunteer opportunities listed, they do say that you can email them with your interest and they will find a place for you! Are you in the education field?? Contact The Dick & Jane Project to come to your building and go through their workshops with your students! Although the project mainly focuses on middle schoolers, I will definitely be looking into the possibility of these folks coming to Downtown High School.

As one of the students says at the end of their informational video,

 “Music can touch people’s hearts. A lot of people will not admit to that or not say so, but music can have a large impact on the behavior of people – and that’s important.”

 From the mouths of babes, folks.

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All information was obtained from www.thedickandjaneproject.org

Find D & J on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dick-and-Jane-Project/181523561881904

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 3rd :: Local Matters

When it comes time for grocery shopping, I honestly don’t think much about where my food comes from, how it’s grown, or really even how to cook it. Give me a recipe for dessert, and I’m golden…but the main course on the other hand…better leave that up to one of my other skilled chef friends! Sure, I try to buy local if it’s an option, I’ve considered “Hmm…hope there aren’t any harmful pesticides on these apples!” and I’ve even cooked a few successful, edible meals for those brave enough to try my cooking. But that’s about where my food knowledge ends.

Until now.

Local Matters

Local Matters is an organization focused on providing us Columbus folks access to locally grown, affordable and healthy food. They also educate people on how to grow their own fruits and vegetables and how to prepare them for delicious meals. As a teenager, I was fortunate enough to not have to watch what I ate or even think about what was going into my body (Oh how I miss my high metabolism paired with 2 hours of hardcore rowing each day!). And that is why Local Matters also helps educate young people about what is going into their bellies – so that when they are older they will have they knowledge to be healthy adults. The organization also works with the head honchos to make sure that our city has policies that allow support for a sustainable food system.

Local Matters’ Vision:

As a community collaborator, Local Matters is transforming the food system through education and increased access to healthful, affordable and sustainable food; while inspiring individuals to consider the role of food in their lives.

Food Matters is a branch of Local Matters that aims to educate children on “an understanding of what healthful food is, where it comes from, how it grows, and how to prepare it.” Kids of all ages are able to leave the course with a knowledge of food, how food is connected to being healthy, and “a language to talk about food.”

Cooking Matters targets the end of child hunger and obesity by educating adults and families on how to purchase and prepare healthy meals at home. By teaming up with the national nonprofit Share Our Strength, volunteer culinary and nutrition experts local community organizations, everyone is able to work together to ensure that children and families are healthy and strong.

Growing Matters educates communities on how to create and maintain successful food-production gardens. “By building strong relationships and providing mutual support, individuals and communities are able to provide their own food supply, and to preserve and prepare delicious meals.”

Because Local Matters has so many branches of their organization, your opportunities to volunteer are endless! Each of the sections listed above has its own team of volunteers, so if you’re good with kids, an artist in the kitchen, or possess two green thumbs, perhaps one of those teams is the right place for you! Other opportunities include things like photographing events and just being a spare set of hands! Check out all the opportunities and sign up HERE!

If your free time is limited and donating money is more appropriate for you, here’s where your money goes:

$25 feeds one Food Matters class fresh & healthy snacks.

$50 provides six weeks of take-home groceries for one low-income family participating in Cooking Matters.

$100 puts one child through 8 weeks of our Food Matters summer camp.

$250 helps one family start growing fresh fruits and vegetables in their yard.

$500​ provides seeds and plants for a school garden.

If Local Matters speaks to you and you would like to donate financially, please do so HERE!

Being educated and aware of what goes into our bodies is imperative for healthy living. Local Matters seeks to provide that education! After my research of the organization, I think it’s safe to say that there might be a Barbie Dream Garden in the house’s future!

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All information was obtained from www.local-matters.org

Find Local Matters on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LocalMattersOrg

See? I baked this delicious pumpkin pie from scratch! From an actual pumpkin for Thanksgiving in Chicago with Tim!

See? I baked this delicious pumpkin pie from scratch! From an actual pumpkin for Thanksgiving in Chicago with Tim! Now if I could just learn to GROW the pumpkin…

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!