Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Take A Hike!

I enjoyed everyone's participation on the adventure poll! Here's the results:

47% of you chose hiking as your adventure-of-choice.

Skydiving came in second place (23%).

I don't think I would ever sky dive unless someone else's life depended on it (If MY life depended on it, I'd likely choose death closer to the ground). I am pretty sure I don't have it in me. I am not much of a thrill-seeker to begin with and I'm afraid of heights. Bad combination. Honestly I'm a little anxious just writing about this, so I'm going to stop now.

I like hiking and I'm glad it was the number one pick. There is something so wonderful about being out in nature, the artwork of God. To those who care to listen and observe, God reveals His divine nature through the complexity of creation:

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification]. -Romans 1:20 (AMP)

Creation is not divine, but God's divine fingerprints are certainly all over nature. If you doubt His existence, take a hike. Literally.

Seek and you will find...


Friday, March 18, 2011

Outdoor adventures...

I've decided to add a weekly poll to my blog (well... we'll see if I can keep up with it weekly!) and write a little blurb about the results on Fridays.

This week's question is about outdoor adventures!

I take a lot of heat for being a "city girl" residing in a small town in Iowa, but city girl or not I do have a deep appreciation for the great outdoors! I have gone fishing with a home-made fishing poll & hot dogs as bait (and I take MY OWN fish off the hook thank you very much). I enjoy rafting, canoeing, boats of all kinds and tubing too! I have hiked mountains in New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arizona and California and have slept under the stars at Lake Tahoe. I have swam under waterfalls and explored caves, gotten muddy and loved it. I'm far from strong and I am an expert at none of the above, still I cannot help but love outdoor adventures!

I'll admit I like wearing makeup and fixing my hair and wearing heels and other "girly things". I like coffee shops and art museums and shopping and music festivals and other "city things". But I've got a bit of adventure woven into my DNA, too. I think we all do - it's just easy to let it lie dormant in our fast-paced, work-oriented culture.

Hope your adventurous spirit has been stirred today! Don't forget to vote on the poll at the top of the page!


I said I wanna touch the earth, I wanna break it in my hands
I wanna grow something wild and unruly
-Dixie Chicks

St. Patrick!

Love reading Mark Batterson's annual St. Patrick post. Check it out [here] and be inspired!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gotta give props...

...to my new friend Marsha! We met for about 30 minutes after a service MC did in Texas, then connected on Facebook and here on Blogger. I'm so glad we did! I'm lovin' her post Single White Female from January 24th. Check it out and follow her!


Friday, March 11, 2011

One Crazy Month

February 2011 was one of the busiest months I've had in ages! February is usually a very busy month in Master's Commission, but this one was beyond busy for me in a great way!

It was also full of surprises. If you know me well you know that I L-O-V-E surprises! Here's a recap of my favorite February in years! This is going to be a lengthy post, so I'm including pictures for those who do not care much for reading;).

I pack two bags: one for the Texas trip with MC, and one for my Tennessee trip for Summer Joy's wedding.

The Master's team loads up and heads to Wichita, Kansas. We spend the night  there with Bethany Cooper's mom, stepdad and adorable sister.

Back in the van heading south to Brownwood, Texas! I drove us through the STICKS of Texas... There was tumbleweed and everything!
Upon arrival we attended a FANCY church banquet in t-shirts and jeans. Well, I had jeans on. A few of the students were wearing sweatpants! Poor kids.

After the banquet we got to spend some quality time with the incredible Pastor Kelly and Donna Crenshaw of New Beginnings Church . God is doing big things in their lives and church!
Masters ministered at the morning service at New Beginnings Church. I taught the high school Sunday school class full of very special young people! The service was amazing, not because we are so great, but because the Holy Spirit of God SHOWED UP and moved!

After lunch we headed to Arlington, Texas and met up with Pastor Matt Davis (MCKC graduate and friend)! He took the team out to BDubs (one of my favorites!) then we got settled in with our fantastic home-openers.

First day of Master's Commission Conference! The weather was beautiful!
I reconnected with old friends and met some new ones, too. I even got to do the Cupid Shuffle and Electric Slide at the Rec night after service! But my favorite part of the day was a breakout session for MC staff members where Pastor Jay West shared EXACTLY what I was needing to hear. Gotta love when that happens!

Second day of MC Conference! Just as great as day one. Pastor Lloyd and Joey Alcala spoke a message on our Unlimited God and His power at work within us.

Fun day with Pastor Matt Davis. We had a picnic lunch at the park, then went to Dave & Buster's compliments of our generous Pastor-Friend.
In the evening we ministered at the Vine Fellowship's youth ministry. Once again, God was SO FAITHFUL to show up and pour out LOVE on us all. I was so proud of our team for really pouring out what God's been pouring into them. We met some great youth and young adults there. I LOVE TEXAS!!!!!!!

Piled back in the van to head home to Floyd. Some time today my sister tells me we should road trip to New Jersey next week. Zach tells me I should go! I drove for a looooong time then surrendered the keys to Zach. Got home around 8:30 p.m.
Sometimes I get road rage. Nibs (our mascot) does too. (Ps, Zach's face in the background of this is priceless!)

Got in my car at 4:15 A.M. to leave for Lebanon, Indiana. Met up with my girls Charity & Brooke around 1, got in Charity's car, then headed to TENNESSEE for Summer's wedding weekend!!!!!!!

Upon arriving in Knoxville we had dinner with Summer and Bruce's families, then had some girl time on Summer's last night as a single lady.

Summer is excited to be a wife!

Summer becomes Mrs. Wiggleston! All of us gals slept in, ran a few errands, grabbed some Panera and headed over to Bruce's parents to get Summer ready for the ceremony.
She was absolutely radiant! She and Bruce got married outside at a beautiful park with closest friends and family present.
Brooke and I pouting about being single;)...

...but I caught the bouquet a few hours later. YESSSSS!

I was so glad I was privileged to attend Summer's wedding. She has been, is and ever will be one of my dearest friends!

Drove back up to Lebanon, Indiana with Brooke and Charity. We of course stopped for Dunkin Donuts on our way:). Blueberry cake donut, mmm. Spent the night at Charity and Andrew's house.

Had a buckwheat pancake breakfast with Charity then headed off to Lafayette for a few days! Had lunch at Scotty's with Miss Vicki Young (BEST buffalo chicken wrap!), caught up with Pastor Adam and met the new guys on staff at the church, had coffee with Sarah Faulkner, then dinner at the OG with my dear friend Joseph Howe. Stayed with the Loveall ladies:).

Had breakfast and Panera with Matt and Brittany Speaks and shopped around Borders. Had lunch at Moe's with Bekah and Hannah Loveall then went antique shopping. Took Hannah to work, then Chris Allen, Bekah and I went to JAVA ROASTER!

Had a brief McDonalds coffee and yogurt parfait date with Sarah Catron. Love her and am proud of her! Had lunch with Becky Deere and her beautiful daughter Hannah, then headed back to Lebanon to hang with Charity before the next leg of my fantastic February! My sister and nephew London met me there to drive together to New Jersey!

Final road trip in my Nissan (sad...). No better people to have "the last hoorah" with than my sister and nephew! Arrived in Jersey around 9 p.m.

Slept in, visited our dear friends Alicia and Tim and adorable son Landon. Got together with Matt, Steph, and Carmen to plan surprise details for Sunday night's service at Bethel: Pastor Joe and Robin's last night as youth pastors!

Had lunch with Alicia, Melissa, and Wendy at the Meadows. Love that place and love these girls!

In the afternoon we had another exciting happening: praise and worship practice with our old praise and worship team! Ahhhhhh, memories! 

Had dinner with my Dad in the evening then hung out at Matt & Stephanie Royce's place. "The original" Steph Royce, Matt and Carmen made a video about Speed the Light. It's worth a watch:).

Sunday! Skipped church to keep the element of surprise for the evening service (Pastor Joe and Robin didn't know we were in town). Had lunch with the family, then went to Nifty Fiftys for a milkshake with my friend Ciara I met last summer. Then I was off to church for Pastor Joe and Robin's celebration service!
Robin squealed with shock when "Josh & the Jericho's" walked on stage! She was surprised, and I was delighted! (photo by Will Mendez)

A graduate from each year wrote a thank you note to Pastor Joe & Robin for their impact over the years. (photo by Will Mendez)

Had a reunion with lifetime friends. We took a shot like the one above in high school when Eliott hated all things pertaining to life. Dave and I had to tickle him to get him to smile back then! Now he's getting ready to be a Marine! SO PROUD!

Got the old "Extreme Force" crew together for a picture on the old sanctuary steps. The last time I was in one of these pictures, Abby (the young girl in front) was just ONE year old! Oh how time flies!

After service some of us stuck around and reminisced. For hours. It was so refreshing and fun and just... sigh... home.

Last day in Jersey. Hung out with my siblings and nephews, then went to the Bell's house to watch videos from our many fun adventures in high school. Not sure why, but I didn't get a picture of Jacob, London and I all together.

Mel and I drove from Jersey to Lebanon to spend one more night with Charity before parting ways.
My mom gave me her car and traded mine in. This was a bittersweet happening, as my Nissan was my first car and the first major purchase I had ever made. Here's to many new adventures in my SUV!

Drove from Lebanon to Floyd, arriving in time to co-lead some praise and worship with Beka Fox!

THAT was my favorite February in a nutshell.
Believe me.
This IS the nutshell version.

Here's to Wild Goose chases and the surprises of life!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Todd & Candy!

This month has been a WILD one! But I have not forgotten my earlier commitment to take some time to honor some important people in my life!

Today's honorees: Todd & Candy Sitcler.

I'll give you all a second to say what I know you're thinking when
you see this picture: "AWWWW!"

I met Todd and Candy in August of 2005 when I joined Master's Commission of Lafayette, Indiana. I'll never forget the first time I met Todd. His hair was somewhat "emo" then and he looked pretty young... I had NO CLUE he was the director! It wasn't until 5 minutes into our meeting and signing of paperwork that I realized he was the "Pastor Todd" I had talked to on the phone!

My first impression of Candy was, "Wow, she is beautiful!" (A little more of a "positive" impression than the one I had of Todd!) I can still remember Candy telling me at our meet-and-greet with the pastors that she was so glad I came to Masters, and that she knew I was a special young woman.

My first year in Master's Commission was a hard year for me. I learned the value of repentance and the role of confession in the healing process (see James 5). Todd and Candy walked with me every step of the way, loving me and encouraging me and believing in me! On one particular occasion I was experiencing great guilt and shame. Candy sat next to me on their couch, put her arms around me, and just cried with me. She prayed that I would understand how much value and worth I had in Christ.

My second year in Master's I grew even closer with the Sitcler family. They entrusted their kids into my care many times, which I considered to be a real privilege! They invited me into their lives, not to observe from a distance but to walk alongside them. They discipled me.

I learned a great deal about marriage and parenting from the Sitclers. I observed as they respectfully worked through conflict. I stood in awe many times as I watched Candy calmly handle Joshua and Devin in their times of disobedience. I saw and heard Candy honor her husband more times than I can number, and witnessed Todd doing the same for his wife. And that is truly just the beginning of what I learned from being in the company of such authentic people of God.

After my second year of Master's Todd became the church youth pastor and I worked as his administrative assistant. It was the easiest job I have ever held, not because the work itself was easy, but because I was working for one of my best friends! Though we've moved different places over the past few years, Todd and Candy remain some of my dearest friends and mentors.

Todd: Thank you for investing in my life! Thank you for letting me work for AND alongside you in youth ministry. Thanks for holding meetings. I love meetings, and the thanks goes to you! Thank you for teaching me that ministry to your family comes before ministry in the church. Thank you for trusting me with your kids! Thank you for teaching me to dream big, and for assuring me over and over, "you're better than you think." Thanks for keeping in touch and being a man of God who is worth trusting!

Candy: Thank you for being you. You are beautiful inside and out, through and through. You've taught me SO much about what it means to be a woman of God. Thank you for being a woman who honors and respects and submits to your husband. Thank you for showing me what that looks like! Thank you for letting me spend time with your family in your home. When I'm a wife and mom I want to be like you! Thank you for believing in me, for believing I was valuable when all I saw was brokenness. Thank you for every tear you cried with me and for me, for every prayer you prayed when my life was in ruins. Thank you for every LAUGH we've shared, every movie we've laughed and/or cried through, every Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, and for every time you took me with you to run errands. You have invested in my life in such practical ways! You've sown eternal seed into my life, and I'm forever grateful! Love you!

Well, now I'm all weepy. I pray that all of my readers have someone in their life who had loved them as well as these folks have loved me!