Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What do you do?

UPDATE: Originally, the video clip would not work. I've found a new link that should. Enjoy!

I get that question a lot. And, once I supply the standard response of "I work for an agency that does marketing for pharmaceutical companies," I normally receive a glazed over look from the inquirer.

So, without further ado, someone out there has walked in my shoes and put it into a fun video! Yup, this is it. This is what I do. And, all jokes aside, I wouldn't be surprised if stop signs did look like this one day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From the Inside Out: World Changers 2008

Last week, I went on World Changers in Charleston, SC with the college and career class at Galeed Baptist Church (the church I grew up in). World Changers is sponsored by the North American Mission Board. The premise is that youth and college age students go out to serve Christ by ministering and meeting the temporal needs of others with the purpose of sharing the love of Christ. It's so cool when you do something for others how people become surprised that you care. These people probably wouldn't give you the time of day otherwise, but your actions prompt them to question you and lead you down the path to spiritual conversations. As James says, "I'll show you my faith by my works."

The Galeed team (minus Lindsay - she's why there is a hole between Noele and me) - Front (l-r): Noele, Me, Frieda. Back (l-r): Ryan, Otis, Robert, Bryan and Blake.

My crew this year was the Brick Bats. Apparently, such a thing does exist and it is an actual brick. I have yet to Google it and see if that's the truth.

Our crew was absolutely amazing. We all worked great together and everyone maintained such a positive attitude. This was actually the first year where my team shared our testimonies. Quite a few members of our team have come from difficult situations and their testimonies were such an encouragement in that they prove just how mighty God is to save. To the Brick Bats - I praise God that He brought each of you into my life and you each were such an encouragement and a blessing to me this past week. "I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers." Philemon 1:4 (ESV)

Brick Bats - Front (l-r): Bekah, Ingrid, Aleia, Jessica, Shaye and Sharon. Back (l-r): Chief Matt, Matt, Craig, Bryan, Me and Becky.

The resident that we were ministering to was Mr. Charlie. We replaced his roof as well as his front and back door that were rotted. Mr. Charlie was a cool dude who smoked a corn cob pipe and would come outside to check on us and watch the work in progress. His daughter Mary lived with him and we were able to visit with them each day. One thing I really appreciated about Mary and Mr. Charlie were their genuine appreciation for what we were doing and they way they made sure to interact with us every day.

Mr. Charlie

Our goals for Mr. Charlie's house were to replace his roof and doors. Our crew chief broke up the project into daily milestones that we tried to complete before lunch each day so that we could have the afternoons off to interact with the community that we were working in (not to mention that it was 100 degrees outside!). We were able to meet quite a few of the residents in Mr. Charlie's community and pray, share the Gospel and encourage them.

God - I thank you for providing us the opportunity to worship you this past week by ministering to the city of Charleston. Please be with Mr. Charlie and his neighbors and move in their lives. Lord, may they come to know the joy to be had in a relationship with you.

Next door to Mr. Charlie's house was a garage that was owned by Elder Washington who is 72 and currently pastors a church in the neighborhood. Tinkering with cars is his hobby. Elder Washington and his friends were such an encouragement to our team. He was one of those men that you could spend the whole day talking to and not realize that one minute had passed. I was amazed that you could pretty much give any book, chapter, verse to Elder Washington and he would quote it back to you. He told us that was God's blessing for him since he didn't complete third grade. I'm definitely going to check in on him and his crew the next time I'm in Charleston!

Elder Washington (seated back row) and friends with our crew

During the week, our leader Robert kept asking the question "Why are you here? Why did God send you to Charleston?" And, I kept answering "I'm not quite sure" to myself. In 2006, I attended my first World Changers in Charleston, SC at the prompting of my sister Lindsay. The eight years prior to that, I wasn't very involved in church and could probably count on my fingers and toes the number of times I attended services during that time. But, God used that trip to pull me back and to convict me that I needed to be attending church regularly and be more involved. So, after we returned from World Changers that year, I found a church home and started getting involved.

Last year, I went on my second World Changers in Pensacola, FL. During that time, I felt like God was working in me even more saying "alright, it's time for you to completely surrender and it's time to start the molding." I craved His Word and couldn't get enough. This time can best be described as our speaker Darryl put it "if my position before God is perfect in Christ, why isn't my practice?" I started to realize I had spent the past few years of my life questioning God's will for my life in this world when in actuality it was time for me to be the will of God to the world. I would beg for him to break through and show Himself to me. He ingrained a passion to serve Him by ministering to others within me. He showed me that He does show Himself to me every day in the people that I come in contact with and He's asking me "what now? Now, that you have found me."

So, two years later, I returned to Charleston were God first yanked me back out of the selfish world that I was living in. I felt like I had come full circle. But, I felt like something was wrong with me. During worship each night, I wasn't feeling the usual convictions and shame that I had felt the past two years. And, I prayed and asked God what was wrong with me and He told me that there wasn't anything wrong with me. That He was proud of me. By no means am I perfect. I'm sinful by nature. But, everyday, I can honestly say that I throw myself at the foot at His cross and strive to live a life that glorifies Him in every way. I ask Him to control me from the inside out. And, I can boast only Christ for this transformation. Worship this year was such a time of praise. Praise of who He is and what He's done and how is completing the perfect work that He started in me!

And, He's challenging me to go further. Our speaker Darryl challenged us all on the last night with 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Darryl challenged us to leave a legacy and to build a testimony that is worth imitating. He challenged us to live in such a way that people can't forget who you are and what you have done. As for what that means for me and my future, I'm not sure. But, I do want to leave a legacy. That's my new goal and what I'm going to strive for each day.

Abba - Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades. Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame. And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise! From the inside out Lord, my soul cries out! In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control. Consume me from the inside out Lord!

Click HERE to see a slide show of more pictures from World Changers 2008!

Friday, July 18, 2008

You can be a...

...World Changer!

Yes, I've been slack in posting this week as I have been prepping to head to Charleston for World Changers. I'll be back in a week!

Please pray for the city of Charleston and the communities that we will be ministering to there.

And, in the mean time, while you anxiously await my return, enjoy some pictures from previous World Changers trips!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The King of New York

There's a new King of New York and his name is Josh Hamilton. In last night's home run derby, Hamilton hit 28 long balls in the first round to set a new record. And, the crowd loved him. The Yanks were on their feet cheering on the underdog. And, while he didn't win, he definately stole the show.

The best part of it all is his story. His story about being the first draft pick and having his future ahead of him only to fall into the grips of addiction and depression. His story about his redeeming Savior who pulled him out of the pit of hell and gave him another chance. And, my favorite part as I was reading his story in ESPN magazine today was that he says

"You're probably thinking, Bad decisions and addiction almost cost him his life, and he wouldn't change anything? But if I hadn't gone through all the hard times, this whole story would be just about baseball. If I'd made the big leagues at 21 and made my first All-Star team at 23 and done all the things expected of me, I would be a big-time baseball player, and that's it.

Baseball is third in my life right now, behind my relationship with God and my family. Without the first two, baseball isn't even in the picture. Believe me, I know."

And, after Hamilton lost the derby, he stood in the middle of Yankee Stadium in front of the nation and gave all the glory to God.

Click here to watch an short audio report of Hamilton's story.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Anne Shirley turns 100!

MARILLA: Well, what's your name?
Would you please call me Cordelia?
MARILLA: Call you Cordelia?
ANNE: Don't you think it's a pretty name?
MARILLA: Is that your name?
ANNE: Well, no, it's not exactly my name, though I would love to be called Cordelia.
MARILLA: I don't understand what you mean.
ANNE: Cordelia is a perfectly elegant name.
MARILLA: What is your name child, and no more nonsense?
ANNE: Anne Shirley.
Plain, old, unromantic Anne Shirley.
MARILLA: Anne Shirley is a fine and sensible name, and hardly one to be ashamed of.
ANNE: Oh, I'm not ashamed, but if you are going to call me Anne, would you please be sure to spell it with an "e".
MARILLA: What difference does it make how it is spelled?
ANNE: It makes a lot of difference.
Print out "A-n-n" and it looks absolutely dreadful, but Anne with an "e" is quite distinguished. So if you'll only call me Anne with an "e", I'll try and reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.

Anne of Green Gables turned 100 this year! My friends Shelly, Kassidy, Karrye and I used to have sleepovers and watch Anne of Green Gables. We loved her!

I think I'll call Shelly and see if we should have an Anne marathon sometime soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

iProject Update #1

iProject Update #1. We're still loading. Is it ever over? But, I do have some Old Crow Medicine Show crankin' right now which makes for a lovely Thursday afternoon. Can I go outside yet?

So you think you can dance?

Last weekend, Kara invited me over to play some Euchre which turned out to be an evil trick to get me sucked into So You Think You Can Dance. Have you seen this show? Katee and Joshua are hands down my favorites. Without further ado, my Katee and Joshua Top Three thus far:

# 1. No Air. Joshua simply rocks in this one. The little pick him up backwards move is awesome!

# 2. Hometown Glory. Brings new meaning to The Running Man.

# 3. Bollywood. Pure fun!

The Miss Congeniality Award goes to Courtney and Gev.

Keep watchin' ya'll!

Greta and Yelena

*Note: Parents might not want to read this one. As I did not follow motherly advice.

After work yesterday, I decided to head to the Art Museum for my five mile run. From the museum, it's a two and a half mile run to Hillsborough Street and is an out and back. I looked up at the sky when I was parking and while it looked like it might storm, I thought I can get this quick run in. So, about 20 some minutes into the run, I turned around at Hillsborough to head back to my car and was staring a storm in the face. Once I reached the bridge to cross back over I440, it lightened straight down in front of me. It was getting windy. It was starting to rain. And, I wasn't up for running another mile and a half back through the woods by myself in a storm.

There were some kids practicing soccer at Meredith and I decided to see if a parent could let me borrow a cell phone or hitch a ride. Well, they were all in their cars pulling away when I got back. So, I headed to Ben and Jerry's to wait it out. Well, there was no waiting it out with this monsoon. I borrowed the Ben and Jerry's phone and left my roommate Karen a message to check and see if I was there on her way home from work. There were two ladies in the shop and one of them overheard my message.

"Excuse me, do you need a ride?" one lady said.

"I would love a ride!" I exclaimed.

"My name is Greta" she said in a thick Russian accent. "My daughter was practicing soccer. I saw you. We'll give you a ride."

And, then, she offered to buy me some ice cream while they ate theirs!

The other lady, Yelena, wound up giving me a ride. I was just so amazed at their willingness to help me out and their selflessness. It was not big deal to them. We had some friendly conversation on the while back and I was really grateful for her help.

I think sometimes it is so carved into me to be "on guard" when dealing with strangers that I miss out on the idea of community. The idea of being the church. The idea of being the Way like the early church. I've been reading The World Race blog a lot lately (it's something I'm praying about) and the experiences of those who are on the race are all about being the church and being Jesus' hands and feet. I am trying to learn to let my guard down to a certain extent (while keeping my common sense about me) and being how the church should be. Being willing to help out those who need it. It's something I want to be more conscious about.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Go Shorty. It's Your Birthday. We're Gonna Party...

July 4 was my daddy's (or as I say it 'deady') birthday! Yup, he's a firecracker all right!
Things I've come to realize about my dad now that I am an adult:
-Along with two other parents, my daddy started a "ponytail" softball league with three pick up teams so that his daughters would have a sport to play as Dixie Youth was the only other option. Today, that league is run by the county rec department and has expanded to include hundreds of young girls!
-Making us go to church was well worth it! I praise God that I grew up in a Christian home with godly parents who continously prayed that He would complete the good work that He started in me!
-Being able to check my car oil is a worthwhile skill.
-Sacrifice. 'Free time' is something I feel like I never have enough of. I've come to realize that my parents made a huge sacrifice of their simple free time so that my siblings and I could play in 20,000 different sports leagues.
-And, you know, he was on to something else. Money doesn't grow on trees!
Me and my deady at the Kiawah Island Marathon

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Engaged or engulfed?

I attended Fellowship Raleigh on Sunday with my friend Jared and their pastor Matt Schoolfield really got me to thinking with simple question. “As a Christian, are you engaged with the world or are you engulfed?”

In all honesty, I struggle with it. I want to only engage. I want to be a part yet be apart. I want to stand out as someone different. But, then, trials come, I fail and I am engulfed.

The CYC girl’s bible study has just started the book of James and last night, as I was studying, I learned that the Greek word for trials in the verb form means “to put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose or discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality. Lately, God’s been putting me to the test with the purpose of weaning me from being engulfed in the world and being strengthened in my trust of Him. And, as a believer, I have responded wrongly exposing my sinful nature and allowing the test to become a temptation. I become what James calls a “double-minded man” (James 1:8) – a literal translation of the Greek expression that denotes having one’s mind and soul divided between God and the world. I am a hypocrite – failing to trust Him.

So, I fail. I am ashamed. And, the father of lies is stealing my hope of being good enough - leading me to believe that I should give up. I’ll never be perfect. Cursed are the ones who can’t abide he whispers.

Why do I fail? Why do I allow it to happen? I scream inside. Why can’t I trust Him fully knowing that in the end I will receive the ultimate blessing? Shouldn’t it be easy? And, then I recognize again that I am a sinner. And, being engulfed is so much easier than being engaged. I am haunted by my God who has the right to ask of me what I by my sinful nature cannot give and the world looks so much better sometimes. Satan knows where the footholds are and where my personal desires are heavy. And, I realize that I haven’t headed the words of Timothy to train like I should for godliness and ultimately am not able to press harder into Him when the trials come. I need to train for the marathon ahead of me and dig deeper into His word and His presence so that I can pass the test when it comes again. Otherwise, this world’s going to eat me alive.

Abba – I’m so distressed sometimes when it comes to the difficulty of being like you and not like the world. Help me to not be engulfed. I fall so easily and feel so ashamed and upset with myself. I want to give up. Help me to press into you when I have sinned. Help me remember that with you there’s forgiveness, redemption and healing. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Create in me a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.