Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 and 8

Get ready for a horrible picture.

I'm combining days 7 and 8 cause they are the same. Something new and what I wore...

See... it's really hard to see. But, I'm wearing my new fun cowboy boots and lovely little dress I bought. I bought the boots cause I liked them. My excuse for the dress was a wedding. Really, these days I don't need an excuse to by new cloths... I have absolutely nothing to wear. Seriously, I have 3 long sleeve shirts that are not t-shirts; however, they are plain and shouldn't be worn alone. I need new cloths. I need money to buy new cloths. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6 - Childhood Memory

One of my most consistent and fondest childhood memories was playing cribbage with my grandpa. Actually, I might go as far as saying all of my fondest memories as a child were either at my grandparent's house or involved them in some way. This pic is from Christmas a few years ago... I'm sure he won.

ps: I've decided it is no longer cheating to not use brand new pictures. I believe the challenge is simply to come up with different memories and/or pictures that show a glimpse into my life. I'm sure you were really concerned about me cheating. Also, I may or may not be writing a bunch of these and scheduling them to post in the future. Possibly I'm doing that ;)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Wedding/Merry Christmas

Two of the greatest people I know recently got married. And, somehow I failed to get a single picture during the wedding. You'll have to take my word for it that she was one of the happiest and most beautiful brides ever to live.

Now, I'm broke. As in eat-bake-beans-as-a-meal broke. Which made getting wedding present a little difficult. Enter pinterest!

I believe I spent a whopping $3 on the whole gift (gift bag included). But, it's personal and handmade so I think that makes up for the cheapness. It's really simple... cut their invitation into tiny strips, curl them and stuff them into a glass ornament. One is made up of the reception invitation and the other the ceremony invitation. 

Hopefully each Christmas they'll be able to take these out and remember the great day that was their wedding!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


If you've read the last few posts you'll know two things about me... I've been planning my make-believe wedding and trying to lose weight. Last night, during Community Group our worship exercise was revolutionary for me in both these areas of my life.

We did this exercise that basically had us read a section of scripture, reflect on it, and possibly share what God had shown us. We read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. It's a familiar verse, but for the first time I saw some things. First someone pointed out the thorn being in the flesh and that flesh is referred to as sin in the bible. So, maybe this thorn was an on going sin Paul continually struggled with. Maybe he prayed and pleaded that it be removed from him... from his desires and God didn't do it. Yes, God forgave this sin. But, he didn't remove the constant temptation of it. That remained as a reminder of Paul's weakness as a man. A reminder of his dependance on God. A reminder that he is the creation and God is the creature. A reminder to boast in God and not Paul's ability to conquer sin on his own. A reminder that only God can conquer sin.

We were asked to think about what was our weakness:
What do you constantly have to depend on God for?
What brings you closer to God?
What do you plead to God to take away, yet when He doesn't you draw nearer to Him because of His presence in your struggle?

The person leading shared that a friend woke up every single day with a desire to drink. An overwhelming desire that if not relinquished to God each day, they'd be overcome by. This got me thinking about my constant sin of gluttony. How I have to relinquish this to God every single day. I can not conquer this sin on my own. Only in the hands of God do I have freedom from this sin. I realize that earlier this year that's where I found myself; in the hands of God, begging for his freedom from food. Begging Him that He be a bigger comfort and desire than food for me. He answered. He moved. He was all this for me. However, more recently, after seeing success in weight loss, I've taken this back on myself. Boasting in what I have done and not what God has done. This was no longer a weakness because I've got it. I can do it.

That's a complete lie. I can't do it. I didn't do it. God set me free yet I put myself back in captivity. A slave to food. My stomach is my god again. That's not where I'll stay. I praise Jesus for being patient and slow to anger. He's a loving father who is excited that I've come to realize this and is standing smiling with his arms opened wide as I joyously run towards him.

After some self reflection, our leader asked if anyone was bold enough to say what their weakness was. I wasn't bold enough, but someone, a guy, said singleness. This struck me. I'm used to women talking about how the struggle with singleness. You'll find a workshop at every women's retreat on singleness and contentment. We are taught over and over again to be content in our singleness. But, this was the first time I have ever heard a guy acknowledged he struggled with his singleness. Wrongly in my mind I figured any guy who was single wanted to be single. Cause, you know, all they had to do was ask a girl. We were the ones stuck waiting.

It occurred to me that guys in fact have to wait too. They have to wait on the Lord. Which, let's be honest, can be harder than waiting on a human to ask an audible question. When I think of the guy I would want to marry, I want a man who, above all else, does the will of the Lord. Who is deeply devoted to Christ and what Christ wants for his and my life. I don't want a guy who, at his desire, runs after something.

I've been too hard on guys. Judging and scuffing at them undeservedly. They don't have it easier... in fact, I kind of think that they might have the harder job.

How do these two seemingly different realization come together?

God simultaneously showed me where I was boasting in myself and in Him. While I was boasting in my success at weight loss, he was bending my will to his in my singleness. I sat there and realized this is why I am content in my singleness right now. I still desperately want to be married, but I'm resting in God's timing; boasting in Him and what He's doing in me.

I've stopped thinking about what I need to do. Stopped seeing all the faults in me of why I am single and allowed God to work. Stopped thinking He doesn't know what I need so I'll help him out by ruling out guys before they even have a moment to hear from God. I've stopped boasting in myself and started boasting in what God is doing in my life.

That is exactly where freedom in Christ resides. Boasting in my weakness for that is where Christ is strongest!

Catching Up

It's official... I suck at daily challenges. I'm just not committed. In order to move this along... here are days 4 and 5.

Day 4: Favorite Color.
I love green. It's a new favorite color of mine which is good considering half of my apartment is bright green.

Day 5: Daily Routine

Trying to think of what to post for this has left me perplexed. I do very few things every single day. I don't always eat breakfast, I'm not a huge need a cup of coffee kind of girl, I don't ALWAYS put on make up, sadly, I don't even read my Bible every day. Even more sad is this... 

I check twitter every. single. day. Without fail, I check it multiple times a day. It's sad. I'm ashamed. But, I love it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stop Pinning Crap

I've recently become obsessed with pinterest. If you haven't yet stop... don't join... don't look! You'll instantly become addicted and it will consume several hours of each day. That might be a little over exaggeration, but only slightly.

Most recently, I've become obsessed with planning my wedding. There's just so many great ideas on there and I want to remember them in case, you know...maybe, God hoping, I do in fact get married. Thankfully, all of this obsession has not turned into a huge case of despair or self condemnation. Typically that's what happens. Growth.

Today, while on pinterest, I saw someone comment on a wedding pin and I just laughed cause it's so true.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two steps forward; One step back

I can not get out of this slump. Every month I take two steps forward and one step back. Two weeks ago I lost 3 lbs, last week another 3 lbs, this week however I gained 1.6. It's frustrating! I can't get mojo back to really kick off these pounds. 

I'm no where near my goal for this year. I'm hoping to at least get half way there before the year's up... completely do able. But, only doable if I actually DO something.

What I'm gonna do this week:
- track my food and activity points (horribly got out of the habit)
- no sweets (I did this two weeks ago and lost 3lbs simply by not eating sweets)
- workout (since the last half marathon my workouts have been spotty at best)
- drink water (when I don't workout I have a really hard time getting my water drank)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 3: clouds

There hasn't been a pretty cloud in the sky for days. Every time I think about the photo challenge and look outside, blue clear skies. So, once again... cheating.

Here's a pic from my most recent trip to Chicago. I love running along the lake and I took this in the middle of a 6 mile run. I love the single fluffy cloud.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 2: Tree

Since I'm on a roll cheating... might as well add one more.

This is my special tree in Tower Grove park. I sit under it every time I go there to read. We're friends.

Day 1: Self Portrait

I guess I should actually start doing this photo challenge. I really wanted to take all new pictures, but I haven't looked good enough to take a self portrait since I started it. Enter I semi-new pic.

It reminds me that I really need to get my eyes checked and buy these glasses. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Photo Challenge

My Real Life Friend as we affectionately call each other is in the middle of a 30 Day Photo Challenge. And I'm always up for a fun challenge!

Like many things I do (insert reference to the Engage Scripture reading plan that I'm still doing from last year), I'll finish it, but it might take me a little longer than 30 days. However, unlike the Engage Scripture reading plan, I doubt it will take two years.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Gotta Have Mo Cowbell

I've got a fever! And the only prescription is Mo' Cowbell!!

It's official... I'm a sucker for a theme! And, I think that's why I've ranked the recent St. Charles Mo' Cowbell Half Marathon just below the Disney Princess Half. I mean, how could you really top Disney?!

My friends Matt and Courtney picked me up early... so early Courtney was laying in the back seat still trying to get a few last minute zzzz's in before running. We parked and got to the starting line in record time. We got out in the bitter cold, took a few pre-race pictures...

Someone remind me to not hide my fuel belt under my fleece when taking pictures.
...and got to the start line about an hour or so early. We wondered around... talked to the people at "Mo' Information" and checked a bag at "MO' bag check" The time came to enter the corral. It was a small race (just 1500 of us), but we all had a cowbell. Enter fun!

After ringing our cowbells for a few minutes, it was start time! We tossed our bells to the side and started running. My plan was to run 12 minutes; walk 1 minute. I stuck pretty close to my plan the entire race. I passed Courtney around mile 3 and got a little worried for her. In my mind I was going to be coming in after her.

The course took us from downtown old St. Charles, through the country, around New Town and back to old St. Charles to finish. The route was kind of boring, but made so much better by the ample volunteers and spectators cheering us on. There were many turns in the course and every single one had at least one volunteer cheering and directing us in the right direction.

I was doing great until New Town (mile 7 or 8). As soon as we left the subdivision and entered farm land again, my legs felt like lead. I couldn't keep going. I started talking to myself and maybe I cursed in front of a small family (sorry parents, they had to learn it eventually)!

Up till this point I knew under 3 would be difficult, but doable. Soon the miles were taking me 13 minutes to run and at mile 10 I just had to walk. Whatever idiot put two gigantic hills at mile 10 needs to be kicked in the kneecaps! I was done. I knew I could run both of them, but if I did, I would be spent and have a hard time finishing the 2 more miles. So I walked.

In the middle of the second hill, a lady passed me and absolutely made my day. She looked at me and said "I've been trying to pass you all day! And, finally I got you. I'm sure it's the hill; I really like hills, but I fully expect you to pass me when we are at the top!" I smiled and thought... you're the first person to actually admit you pace yourself to those around you and have an unspoken competition with them! Sure enough, I got to the top and started running and quickly passed her. She looked at me exhausted and said "See! I told you you'd pass me!" I never saw her again.

Soon, I was back in Old St. Charles. There was the finish line! As I got closer I saw my friend Matt, but no Courtney. As I crossed the line 5 minutes over my goal and 4 minutes from a PR, I was happy. I gave it my absolute all. It wasn't my best time, but by far not my worse.

I grabbed some snacks and a celebratory beer and met Matt to cheer Courtney in! Once she got in, we decided we were starving and would risk offending people with our stinch in order to eat. Quickly we found ourselves with a meal fitting for recovering from the Mo' COWbell half marathon...

I'm extremely happy with my time. I was only 3:30 minutes off my PR, yet I finished in much better shape. I could stand, walk, and still breath afterwards. I didn't have to have Matt pull over in case I vomited and the next day I felt great! No soreness at all!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Under 3

You may remember that my goal for the Illinois Half Marathon was to get under 3 hours. Sadly I missed that goal by 1:22. As I began training for the Mo' Cowbell Half Marathon I just knew this wasn't going to be a PR for me. I remember the moment as I stopped to walk after just a 1:30 of running, this race would be about finishing; not time. Frankly I was okay with that.

Today something changed.

In the middle of my 5 mile run I checked my phone and saw I was on 3 hour half marathon pace and wondered if I could keep it up. At mile 4 I looked again and I was about a minute behind; I dug in and sure enough at mile 5 I was at a 13.3 minute mile! At that pace I'd finish in 2:50!

I think I can do it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It finally happened... I got food poisoning.

It's no fun. No fun at all. After enjoying Greek fest with four of my friends, I went for a 5 mile run came home ate a salad and headed out for a walk with my neighbor and good friend. As we made the last turn home, I said "my tummy hurts." That was the beginning. 

The next morning after being up sick all night I texted my friends to see if anyone one of them were sick too. Sure enough, three out of five of us were sick. Opa!

I spent the whole day in bed sleeping and not eating. Wednesday was much of the same, but moved to the couch and I could do some work. It wasn't until Saturday that I could stomach normal food again. 

Good news... I lost 7 pounds last week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Moved In

I've finally convinced myself I'll never have my apartment just how I want it... there will always be something little to change here and there. Shoot... that's what makes having a home fun. Right? Which means it's time to post the after pictures of my apartment I moved into a couple months ago.

The layout of my place is kind of awkward, but then again I'm kind of awkward so we belong together.

Ta Da! My bed. Yep, you walk right into the bedroom. Oh well...I love how it jumps of the purple wall. I've never been a huge fan of purple. But, my friend Krissy is and she happened to help me A TON with everything. When she suggested it, it just made sense. What you can't see is the stain glass window that has purple accents. And, shoot... it's paint $50 and an hour of work and it would be gone if I didn't like it. Thankfully, I do.

On the opposite wall is the despised faux brick wall. It was hideous! Not anymore...

Confession... the brick is still (and will remain) Kilz white. It was such a pain to paint! And, I like it white.

Through the french doors is the living room. 

I absolutely love my reading corner! I bought a crazy cheap couch in order to buy this lovely, comfy chair. Not regretting that decision. On the other side of the room is my "home office."

Instead of the ugly folded table, imagine a big wood, distressed antique desk with lovely, organized accessories. A chalkboard something was necessary in my apartment and Krissy surprised me with the magnetic primer. Yes, sir, a magnetic, chalkboard stripe... perfect for fun magnets (sadly not strong enough to hold paper) and inspirational messages. 

Past the bathroom where I've done absolutely nothing but paint the medicine cabinet mirror frame.

And you enter the spacious kitchen. Most of the work (albeit, not my work) went into the kitchen. Krissy's hard work with new cabinet doors was a shining success... They are great!!!

And, the reason for the bright green wall in the living room... the bright green walls in the kitchen. They're pretty much perfect.

What's left to do you ask?:
- paint bathroom
- hang pictures (separate post coming about this project)
- buy desk
- get more baskets/totes/bens for organization
- make book shelves for cookbooks
- buy a freakin kitchen trash can
- paint rest of the kitchen
- remove the stickers from the fridge
- organize all my crap in the basement
- hang my living room curtains
- fix the living room blinds (for that matter buy new blinds)
- hang new shower curtain

Wow... what they heck am I doing on the computer?!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This weekend I had a wedding to attend. After desperately attempting to get out of it, I was stuck, I had to go. I originally bought a plan ticket on sale, but after a series of frustrating events, I drove the 5.5 hours up to Chicago.

I decided to make the best out of my plans getting all messed up by leaving crazy early in order to get to one of my favorite Chicago-area churches. After a side trip to Enterprise at O'Hare, I walked in just in time to take a seat and enjoy their service. Man, do those people know how to worship! It was amazing to be surrounded by people excited to be worshiping God. I caught myself with tears at one point out of joy of being part of God's family.

I sat behind one of the elders who were sitting by his wife and a friend with a baby. At one point the baby needed changing. I watched, nearly in shock, as the pastor offered and went and changed the dirty diaper (the diaper of a child that's not his). After they returned the baby started fussing and he again left and calmed the baby in the back so the mother could sit and enjoy the service. I was blown away by his selflessness, care, and support for his friend. But, then again, that's how these guys are; they model for their church exactly what it means to sacrifice first and most for their families and church. They serve each other and the church humbly, sacrificially, and wisely. I'm glad I sacrificed the few hours of sleep to make it there.

After church it was off to the wedding... a Sunday afternoon wedding. Weird. In the middle of the ceremony the best man started to look a little sick. Finally someone from the back walked up just in time to get him off the stage before he passed out. The ceremony went on without a hitch. I've always heard about this happening, but never actually saw it for myself.

Not to be out done, the bride started getting sick at the reception. Somehow everyone pulled it together and accomplished every stereotypical wedding reception task there is. When the dancing finally started the dj took center stage. He made every single person (and I mean every single person) get out on the dance floor so he could teach us all the moves he made up to the song...for every song!!

My sister-in-law and I quickly made our way to the restroom somewhere in the middle of the second one. And, after hiding out during the bouquet toss, I couldn't take any more mandatory fun and quickly said my good-byes and headed to my hotel room in the city.

Monday the plan was to do anything I wanted. First order of business... run! I was suppose to do 4.5 miles, but because it's Chicago I did 6.5 unknowingly.

Right around here I convinced myself that St. Louis needed a gigantic lake as well.

Then it was off to the Art Institute. This was one that I'd always meant to go to, but I'm much better at museums by myself. I'm selfish like that and want to go at my own pace. I spent two hours meandering through each room confirming the fact that I don't get modern art and falling in love with impressionist art from Monet to Vincent Van Gogh.

No trip to Chicago is complete for me without a stop at Ikea. Sadly I learned going to Ikea about two months after moving is the optimal time. Last trip I'd been in my new place just days and had no clue what I actually needed. Not this time! I went in for just a couple of items and walked out with two gigantic bags full of goodies.

By God's grace I survived another family weekend. Today at the office I was telling my co-workers all about the trip and what happened. One of the guys nailed it on the head when he said "Oh! I've become that bitter about going to weddings too." I think I have some repenting to do.

Fresh and Healthy

I just got back from the grocery store. As I put away everything I realized I had 4 items that did not go in the fridge or freezer... 4! To me that means I'm eating fresh, healthy food. Check out that basket...

Somehow I managed to get through the store sticking to a list and not purchasing any sugary (and/or salty) snacks. I'm rather proud of myself... especially considering the mood I was in while shopping.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sound the Trumpet!!


It's a wonder what eating healthy and having a stocked fridge will do to you! I LOVE the e-mealz! I really only ate two of the meals, but it kept a stocked pantry for me. A guideline to follow. When I felt like making something from the e-mealz I did, but there were a couple nights were I looked and thought... I can do something else with this. Insert creativity and healthy eating! A recipe for a great weight loss week!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Big Dreams

I REALLY want to do the Chicago Marathon next year! All of it... all 26.2 miles! I've been thinking about it since I made a promise to one of my friends that we'd do a full marathon before we were 40. I forgot to calculate that she's about 9 years older than me and that we'd have to do it in 2012. Since then she got injured and her running career is in jeopardy. Can't blame her... I blame her abnormally small knee caps!

But, it planted in me a seed, a dream... could I finish a marathon?! Could I actually do the Chicago Marathon in 2012?! I'd really like to try!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Over the last two months I've hit a plateau. I've lost and gained and lost and gained the same 5-8 pounds. It's terribly frustrating; one week I'm feeling great and losing 4-5 pounds and turn right around and gain it back. I've blamed a lot of things; some legit and some not so much. Finally last night I did some googling and found this:

Expect your metabolism to slow down as you lose weight. The more weight your body is carrying, the more calories your body has to burn in order to sustain itself, even at rest. When you begin restricting your calorie intake, you'll lose weight relatively easily because your body's high caloric needs are not being met. But after you begin to shed the weight, the body has less mass to carry and thus needs fewer calories. In order to continue losing weight, you will have to restrict your caloric intake even further in order to maintain a difference between what your body needs and what you are providing.[2]

It made sense and clicked. I had changed my exercise and dieting and lost 35 pounds. I had changed enough to lose that much weight and in order to lose more, I am going to have to adapt and change. Here's my game plan:

1. no more sweets - I've been out of control with sweets. Last night I had ice cream with a friend; Wednesday there's a game night I'm going to. I'm allowing myself to bend a little there. But, that's it. 

2. meal planning - shockingly I HATE menu planning. I'm learning I'm not as big of a planner and detail person as I've fit myself into. I tried to plan a week's menu on Saturday and it made me want to crawl into the fetal position. WAAAYYY too much work...enter I got a 3 month subscription and started this week. It's easy! 

3. tracking - I've slacked from tracking my food. It's coming back

4. water - drinking lots of it... three nalgenes a day.

5. running - technically I've done all my training runs so far, but they haven't been pretty. Getting back out there and hitting it hard. 

With much prayer I feel like I'm on the edge of the plateau and about to fall face first back into weight lose!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Double the blessings

As I wrap up my stories from Joplin, I've got one final one I need to tell.

While I was working at Mystery, an older (70's or so) couple walked in. They explained a volunteer team had come to their home, yet they needed more help. I talked with them for a bit asking exactly what needed to be done; if anything was salvageable, did they want to be there, etc. As they talked the wife would quickly go from anger to tears and back. We worked it out so that the super debris removal team of Journey and Life Connection folks would meet the Watson's at their home the next afternoon, after they finished at Mr. MacDonald's.

Sure enough, the next day our team met the Watson's at their home. Soon I got a call from one of The Journey team members saying they locked the keys in the car and asked if I could call AAA for them.

*Not to self: if you tell AAA that you are working in the middle of a disaster area, you get moved to the top of the list.

After calling, I grabbed some supplies (their's were locked in the car) and headed to the Watson's. I was surprised what I saw. While their home was completely destroyed, they had a walk out basement that wasn't damaged or flooded. The team was slowly getting the large appliances (furnace, a/c, deep freezer) out of the house when I walked in. I smiled at Mr. Watson and exclaimed "there is so much here you can save!" He quickly replied "NO, IT'S ALL RUINED!" I did a quick scan and pointed to a sealed barrel and said "I bet whatever's in here is still good! Do you want to open it?" He came over and said "sure, I don't even know what's in there." We opened it to find his sons old, ratty golf bag; he didn't want it and asked if I did. Of course I didn't, nor was I going to take anything of his. This became a common theme throughout the day. They both were convinced we were just there to go through their stuff and pick what we wanted.

As I looked around I knew there was no way we could just leave this couple to do all this work themselves. Even after Mr. Watson told us numerous times we could go and they could do the rest. We'd leave and talk amongst ourselves in the yard. Pretty soon Mr. Watson would come back out and say "you're still here! I could use some help getting _____ out." One of the guys would quickly go in and help him.

Before I left I pulled the three Journey team members to the side and said I thought they needed to stay. I explained that this was going to be completely different day then yesterday. The day before was all about getting dirty and getting a lot done. Today was going to be about loving the Watson's. Giving them space. Letting them process at their speed, but being there throughout the day. I told them that it was going to be long and probably frustrating, but I felt like God wanted them to be there for the Watson's. They completely agreed and hung around.

They stayed the entire rest of the day. They were able to win the trust of Mr and Mrs. Watson. As they stood in the slightly cleaner basement at the end of the day Mr. Watson looked at the volunteers and told them "Why are you are acting like I'm the only person in Joplin right now?" One of the volunteers replied "because to us, you are." He smiled and replied "Whatever blessings God has for you I pray that he doubles them."

Before leaving the Watson's everyone gathered in the basement. One of the volunteers asked Mrs. Watson one final time "What's one thing that you've not been able to find?" Through tears she said "my momma's opal necklace. I've searched and searched for it and it's not here." With that the team prayed over and for them both. Mrs. Watson opened her eyes and between her feet was her momma's opal necklace.

It's been a privilege to be apart of the work God is doing in Joplin. Every single day I had a front row seat to what God was doing through the people of Joplin and the teams that came to serve. No life was left unchanged. It's been estimated that Joplin will need 900 volunteers a day for the next 5 years! That's 1.64 million people! You can be one of those; someone that God uses to not only rebuild a city, but bring God's restoration into the lives of those in Joplin.

To volunteer with Mission Joplin check out the website here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Team Orientation

I've sat through and even giving the orientation to volunteer teams numerous times. It's always shocking to hear and say. Here's a little piece of what each team is told before heading out to provide relief in Joplin.


Thank you for being here with us today! We greatly appreciate you all being here. Has everyone signed a waiver?

Let's talk about why you have to sign those waivers. You are getting ready to head into a very dangerous area where the possibility of you getting injured is high. You'll notices as you get into the disaster area the air gets thicker and there is a distinguished smell in the air. There is still a lot of stuff in the air; insulation, drywall, etc. You'll notice when you get out of the area your skin might itch from being exposed to it. We have a few masks if you didn't bring your own; always wear a mask when in the area.

Be very mindful of where you are stepping. We've had numerous people step on nails and get cut. One guy fell through a roof and another into a basement because they thought the structure could hold them. If you do get a cut or injured, it is imperative you get it taken care of. There has been fungi and other infectious diseases that have sent people to the hospital. If you get cut, wash and bandage it well. Make sure your tetanus shot is up to date; if you need one, there are multiple places around the city offering free shots. Please let us know if anything happens and seek medical attention if necessary.

Another huge danger is the weather. We've seen record high temps the past several days. Today, temperatures are expected to reach 100 with heat indexes of 104-106. There is no shade. You can take a tarp and construct a shelter if you'll be at job site all day. Staying hydrated is imperative! Make sure your cooler is stocked full of Gatorade and water!

Today will be a busy and hard day for you; the job is big; however, what we are most concerned about is the Gospel going forth. Be mindful the people you encounter. If you see someone alone working or standing in front of a home; approach them and ask if you might help them. A lot of people for the first time are realizing everything they've built their lives on and for is gone. We have a great opportunity to point them to the only true thing they can build their lives on... Jesus. Offer to pray with them and serve them whenever possible. When you do meet someone, get their information so a Mystery Church leader can follow up with them.

Let's pray before you head out...

If this message hasn't scared you, consider coming and joining the hundreds who accepted the challenge and volunteered with Mission Joplin! The work is hard, exhausting and draining; yet in the midst, Jesus strengthens, encourages and uplifts you. Is he calling you to be a part of what is going on in Joplin?!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mr. MacDonald

Soon after one Journey team left Joplin, another arrived. This time a small, but mighty crew of three.

The first day of their trip they were alone, cleaning out a home of an elderly man. His insurance covered his home, but like many people would have to pay to have it demoed/cleaned. And, like we've seen many times, that expense would take a huge chunk of the money intended to get them a new home.

A tornado takes everything... everything! You take for granted without even thinking about it, modern conveniences such as street signs. They are gone. Imagine trying to navigate a new city that has no street signs, no landmarks, and often no house numbers (well... where there is even a house). That's what every single team that comes does and somehow has navigated. 

Going through someone's personal belongings (or what remains of them) is a weird and emotional thing. The team called Mr. MacDonald who was about 90 years old and very hard of hearing. But, they got to talk to him which meant he survived and was being taken care of. They told him they were working at his house today and if he needed anything to give them a call. And so it began...

The entire house was covered like this. Poetically the newspaper's headline reads "I know there is help." Everything was bagged (which we later learned shouldn't be) and taken to the curb. As they worked, they began imagining who this Mr. MacDonald was and is. Did he serve in the war? Are these his grandkids? I bet he was a professor! Did he hoard all this stuff? What did it look like before?

After the first day, the three of them had made a huge dent in the work. Clearing two whole rooms of debris. I've told team after team "you'll be amazed at how much work you can get done." It's true. The power of a team working together for one goal is truly powerful!

The evening of the first night a team from Life Connection in Independence, MO arrived. We decided more people is always a good thing so the next morning the two smaller teams joined forces to create one super debris removing team!

They went back to Mr. MacDonald's home to finish up and get absolutely everything out. Soon this...

Became this... 

Before leaving, they gathered up all the pictures and other items they were able to salvage and called Mr. MacDonald to tell him they'd be at the church whenever he wanted to come and get them. 

Later that night I got the previdge to meet him as I handed what was left of his home to him. He looked at me and just smiled in amazement. He probably told me 4-5 times "I can't believe how good of a job they did! Please tell them how great of a job they did and how much I appreciate it!"

I went back inside the church with tears in my eyes and waited for the super debris removing team to get back so I could tell them of Mr. MacDonald's joy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Unknown servants

On my second trip to Joplin, I got the privileged of working with some of my fellow Journeyers. Most of my work here is done deep behind the scenes so to get out and get dirty with these guys even if it was only for a couple of hours was awesome. Here is the first team's story...

The team of 18 Journeyers were given the huge task of demoing an entire home... by hand.

Heavy machinery is in short supply, but we've learned that with enough manpower, we can do just about as much work as a bobcat; it just takes us a little longer. There's no question the job was overwhelming. Where do you even start? How do you do this? Can we do this?

They just started working. Digging. Pushing. Hammering. Sawing. Head down. Shovels in.

Soon one wall was down and then another.

Everything had to be moved to the curb... EVERYTHING. All the debris on the floor of the house, the walls, everything. We'd shovel it all into garbage cans and drag it to the curb. Over and over again.

Once everything has been moved to the curb, Fema and Americorp would bring in huge cranes and haul off the debris. Demolition of a home can cost a homeowner a lot of money and we quickly learned that even those people who had insurance, the demolition is often not covered. 

With heat indexes well into 100 degrees, resting, finding/making shade and being hydrated was extremely important. Since all the trees are gone, our team first found a broken umbrella across the street and throughout the day found broken chairs to take breaks on. By the second day, the shelter got a little more sophisticated, with a tarp and even more chairs. 

As the team was breaking for lunch, one of the guys noticed a woman outside the house across the street. A couple of them walked over to talk with her and see if they could do anything for her. She wasn't able to even speak she was so emotional and overwhelmed. Her and her husband had survived the tornado and she wanted to get some cherished items out of their partially demolished home, but wasn't physically able to get into the house. 

While the guys jumped into the window, the rest of the team stood by the homeowner and just talked to her, calmed her down, and continued to ask what else they could do for her. As we've seen often, she was unsure why someone they've never met would care and want to help them so much. By the time they were done,  they had won the trust of the homeowner as she cried holding a framed quilt block her mother and quilted over 25 years ago and who recently passed away. The Journey team left for lunch reassuring her that they were coming right back after lunch if she needed anything at all.

By the end of the second day, the last wall was pushed down and the last load carried to the curb.

This amazing team of volunteers did hard labor, in rough conditions for a family they didn't know. They received no recognition or awards for their work. These volunteers are one of hundreds who have come and will come and selflessly give of themselves with nothing in return. Because of their work, Joplin will soon be restored and rebuilt!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Environment and Where It Went Wrong


I love control.
I crave it.
Almost as much as power.

Over the last month, I've spent quite a bit of time in Joplin working some recovery mojo. It's been a great, but hard time. God's amazing and miraculous grace, mercy and love has been more evident to me during this time than any I can remember in the recent past. I can't escape hearing, seeing and feeling God's presence around me daily. Yet, it's been incredibly difficult. Difficult to see and share in people's burdens as they have no place to live, lost all their belongings, and lost all sense of security and normalcy.

But, what's probably been the most difficult for me is the lack of a controlled environment. I like order. I like making order out of chaos. I like knowing (read: having control) over when I go to bed, what and when I eat, where I'll work, who I'll talk to, what I'll watch/read, etc, etc, etc. Consequently this has happened...

OH yes! Every single team that has walked through these doors has brought boxes and boxes of cookies. I can't stop myself. I love me some double stuffed oreos and chewy chips ahoy! LOVE them! Add to that the fact that I'm eating out basically twice a day means way too much fried food and too much food in general.

I long to be back home where I can control my environment better. But then I think... That's not the solution. I need to be controlled by the Holy Spirit so that when I can't (and when can I ever) control my environment, I do not sin in my eating.

Oh God, bring me to repentance!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Earlier this week I drove up to Chicago with one of the best people I know... Lauren Mizel. It was a great trip filled with laughter, conversations, and surprisingly no crying (still unsure how that failed to happen). The purpose of the trip was to see U2 live at Soldier Field... mission accomplished.

We arrived during the end of the opening act, Interpool? I think they were called Interpool... I kept calling them Interlude which is just funnier.

Lauren convinced me that this concert would change my life and we needed to capture the moment I changed forever. 

This is leading up to my favorite part of the show.

And... favorite part of the show. During Miss Sarajevo the ginormous screen stretched to the floor and the production level literally went through the roof. I absolutely LOVE when performers break from "their" style and sing completely different. I think it truly shows their talent and that's exactly what Bono did as he belted his way through the opera portion.

Okay... that was a lie. My favorite part was the very last song. Bono talked for quite a long time and started to tell a story how they lost someone about 25 years ago and wrote a song for him. They hadn't planned on singing the song, but after a quick conference with the band leader, they pieced it together. Another one of my most favorite things in concerts is when they break from production to be real and authentic. High production is great, but what's even greater is pure, unrehearsed talent on show for 70,000 people!