Today, I have the privilege of presenting my wife as my guest blogger. Leanne and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary in less than two weeks. We’ve been through a lot together over the years, and I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead. Her thoughts below are extremely insightful while being very transparent. Leanne doesn’t blog at the moment, but your comments and feedback may help spur her on to share more of her life and story.
This week I took a day off and went to the beach. This is something I used to do a couple of times a year but recently haven’t done for quite some time. So, it was a big deal to me. I filled up my tank with gas. I packed a picnic lunch, and figured out my directions. I put my tunes in the cd player and started on my trip. I didn’t even get on the turnpike when there was a detour – right at the start of my trip!
It reminded me of how this past year seemed like a detour in many ways.
In all these things, I am now able to look back and see God working for the good in all things. At the time, life seemed like a series of detours. A friend asked me the other day if life made sense and for the first time in a while I was able to say that yes, right now it actually did. That doesn’t mean that life is without problems and everything is perfect but there’s faith, recovery, hope, and the support of family and friends.
What detours have you experienced in your life? How have you seen God working good in your life through the ups and downs?(I’m looking for guest bloggers to share their “stretch marks” here. If you’re interested in becoming one of my guest bloggers, please drop me a comment, so I can get in touch with you.)
I’m in the process of reading Chazown by Craig Groeschel, and I just finished Part I. At the end of this section he encourages the reader to finish six statements. “Forget the past, because you can’t change it. During those final days (of your life), how do you want to be able to finish the following statements?” I thought I throw out my initial responses to these statements here (but to be honest I have more pondering to do to fully finish these completely). I also thought it would be challenging for you to consider these as well. I’d love to hear how you would finish these statements.
1. The thing that was most important to me was…
God (first) and my family (second).
2. People say I stood for…
loyalty, integrity, Christ, and community.
3. I made a difference in my world by…
setting an example for my own family and other families and by pointing others to Christ.
4. God was glorified because I…
followed Him and led out loud in my home, in my job, in my community, and in my church.
5. People knew I loved them because…
I listened to them.
6. The reason I expect God to say “well done” is…
(tough one) I stuck with it through thick and thin. I stayed true to Him. I trusted in Him. I lived to help others find Him.
I just had to share the thoughts from Isaac’s devotion for yesterday:
Have you ever heard someone say, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?”
As goofy as it sounds, this saying holds a lot of truth. First, it says that life will hand you lemons. It doesn’t say if, and it doesn’t say life might hand you lemons. It says when.
Lemons are the bad things that happen in life. Maybe a pet dies. Maybe your best friend decides not to be your friend anymore. Perhaps you’re not treated fairly by a teacher. Whatever it is, you’ll have to face your share of lemons in life.
The second part of that saying is the hardest to follow – “make lemonade.” In other words, take the bad things that happen and make the best of them. Look for the positives. Find the good part.
Sometimes finding the good part is really difficult. When a friend turns her back on you, it hurts. Sure, you can make other friends. But it hurts right now. Making lemonade is probably the last thing you want to do. That’s why it may be a good idea to add another sentence to that saying: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. And God is the ultimate lemonade maker.”
God can take the worst situations in your life and make something good from them. At first, you may find it hard to see the good, but over time you’ll look back and see how God turned bad things to positive experiences in your life. And here’s the best part: while you’re waiting for God to make things better, you can hide in him. Use that time to get to know him better. Take comfort that God love you, cares for you, and can use bad things to make you stronger and more like him. When things get tough, look to God and take comfort in his strength.
Psalm 141:8 But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge….
I feel like I’ve been pretty busy lately… oh, I have been. Well, here’s a highlight video from last week’s Stretch event that I was talking about. I think it provides a pretty good glimpse as to why you didn’t want to miss this event as a student or volunteer.
Until the next post…
Last night was the first night of Stretch, and it was incredible! I truly had a blast interacting with the 200+ middle school students who came to the first night, the large number of volunteers that helped pull this thing off, and the parents who arrived to pick up their students. I also enjoyed participating in the games along with the kids – especially on the hoops court. One game station that I didn’t try yet is what I like to call the Puke Machine II (see my previous post from last year) – I think it might be called the tumbler. The challenge is out there…. If Jeff Whitebread can get Bob Lewis and Sean Healy to go on it, then I’ll go on it with them and Jeff.
At any rate, I especially enjoyed the chance to sit in on most of the program that took place in the middle of the night. It kicked off with Chosen, a great hip hop team. And it ended with a great message by Travis Crim. Travis Crim used Psalm 139 to talk about how God knows everything about us. Here’s the passage he used:
1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
I’m excited (while exhausted) to see how things will go tonight.
Until the next post, I’ll be stretching some more…
This is my first time trying something like this, so bear with me. I think that I’m putting in a link to our church’s Stretch camp video review. The video provides a small glimpse into how cool the event was. Imagine 250+ kids enjoying this and more.
Thankfully, I took today off, because I am exhausted.
Last night, we wrapped up Stretch. Between Kids Camp and Stretch, I believe we had 1000 different kids at our camp. It was really cool. I especially appreciated the chance to hang out with other volunteers at Stretch. We are so blessed at our church to have committed people who get it. What I mean by this is that they understand why we do events like these and why we do them with excellence. It’s not about putting on the best event in the area, so we can say we’re the best. It’s all about drawing people in our area to a fun activity where they will be challenged to examine and change their lives.
I spoke to several parents yesterday at church who were so thankful for camp and who seemed very interested in coming back to check out our church again. I pray that they do, and their lives are challenged and changed as a result.
Tomorrow, it’s back to work. I’m sure I’ll be tired, but I’m also sure I’ll have a reinvigorated outlook as I interact with my colleagues.
Until the next post….
Last night, we had 173 sixth through eighth graders attend our church’s Stretch Camp. It’s been truly amazing to see our volunteers working hard together to pull off back-to-back huge community events. One of my “highlights” of the evening was watching a kid tossing his cookies after a ride on what I had earlier referred to as the “Puke Machine” (I think it’s real name is Twinspin). I especially had a blast talking to some of the volunteers who I really didn’t know that well.
OK, we just finished day three of kids camp, and it was incredible. I had 26 fourth graders back to have fun and to learn more about trusting God. Today specifically, we talked about “treasure.” Our verse today was from Matthew 6:21: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It was awesome to see kids professing the need to put God first in their lives before all the other stuff like video games, trampolines, dogs, TV, etc. I heard we had around 665 kids again today. What an experience.
I just got home for a quick shower and half hour break before heading back over to the building for Stretch. I have the privilege again this year to lead the games team. It should be a blast. We have laser skirmish, a “puke” machine, a maze, hoops, a huge video game room, and inflatable maze, volleyball, table games, … I’ll let you know more later. I gotta run.
Until the next post….
I’ve been contemplating doing the blog thing for some time. You might be wondering where the “Stretched” thing comes from. For starters, when I was in high school at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, I was short – 5’6″ to start my junior year. Since then, I’ve grown to almost 6’6″. Many of my friends started calling me Stretch.
On a more recent basis, I often feel “stretched” by all the things going on around me – career, marriage, parenting, church, running, reading, friendships, extended family, relationship with God, etc. (in no particular order). My hope is that this blog will provide an opportunity to express some of my “stretch marks” and to possibly hear your thoughts as well.
So here we go….
Until the next posting….