Thursday, October 23, 2008

Loving the Weather, Loving Florida

Ok, so I am actually going to attempt to use this as a journal on my experience here. May it bring insight to others as well as myself. Pray that I can stick to it. I wont be doing this daily. Just here and there.


I have truly been loving Florida overall.

These first three months have been some of the most challenging yet wonderful three months of my new post-college journey. I have been learning a lot through my tears, pain, joy, stress, love, etc. Life continues to teach me many things and I am thankful for my screw ups because it is teaching me to be a stonger, smarter, more well-rounded individual. I have had to remind myself quite a bit to wake up in the morning and choose joy. Joy in that I have God in my life, that I have my health, some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for, an amazing family, and a great friend who happens to live with me now. Yes, I do say choose joy because it is a choice. One marked with discipline, faith, trust, and knowing what is right deep down in one's heart.

The best part of my journey down here thus far has got to be working with my kids at the Conductive Education Center of Orlando. I spend most of the day working one on one or sometimes one on two, three, four, five, or even six :/ kids. Makes me really think hard about the size of the family I pray that God will bless me with one day (however, not anytime soon). The kids are simply amazing and while they can have their moments and their bad days, it doesn't matter how bad of a day they are having, they snap out of it quickly and put a smile right back on their cute little faces, even if its coming out of a seizure. Their laughs are pure and come from deep within. We have been very busy working on getting our new school done and it is VERY NICE. We should be moved in by Thanksgiving week and hopefully starting classes there after Thanksgiving. I am excited because it will make my drive shorter and quicker.

Im with the kids from probably 8-2 and then working on the marketing side of things as the assistant marketing director for the rest of the day. I am also loving that part of the job as well. It is a nice change of pace and I get to get out in the community and meet people.

So, that was a quick tid-bit of what I do, now on to today....

Today I finally got a new bike. For those of you that do not know, my bike was stolen back in July and I am now equipped with a new bike and a new car (blessed way beyond what I deserve, but am so thankful). Candace (our program director) gave me the heads up and I went down to buy it from my new buddy John. He is a great guy and he was asking $30 and I ended up getting it for $18. There was some divine intervention in that and we both saw it :) I can even trade it in later for an upgraded bike as I hopefully have a little more money in the months to come (hoping that I can still find a way to save some money and still live off our small stipend, which I will figure out a way very soon. I am very close to actually coming to that point and it excites me.

I woke up and rode for about 20 miles. I road across town into Winter Park and took care of some things on that side of town and then road across University to visit Candace and Sr. Florence at CVIF. It was great spending some time with them and finally seeing the CVIF home base :) It was a nice cool day.

Tonight I will be doing absolutely nothing, but relaxing and catching a movie. It is going to be a beautiful thing. Going to rest up tomorrow (maybe go visit some other volunteers) and then off to bed early because I will be working Saturday and Sunday.

I am looking forward to next weekend, because not only is it Halloween, but it will be my birthday weekend and hoping to celebrate all weekend with various activities taking place.

For those of you reading this, I ask that you continue to keep all of us volunteers (I think there are about 16 of us) in your thoughts and prayers. We are all learning a lot and our missions are especially are in needs of your prayers. Pray that we continue to grow, learn, love, and serve with the greatest being love. Help us to have a love that pushes one another to grow and to challenge them to be the best version of his or herself; a love that does what is best for one another. More specifically, God's def. of love.



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Finding our Balance

Life is funny. The human mind is funny. People are funny. All proof that God does indeed have a sense of humor.

It seems as we search for purpose and direction in life we seem to find ourselves more lost upon this realization than we would if we had not thought about being lost. If we hadn't started trying to look for our purpose or look at which direction we should be going, we wouldn't really know we were lost, or would we? In fact, we would be simply heading down the road going wherever the wind took us, not knowing we were indeed lost. There are many of us that spend our whole lives in this state of living for the moment and without planning ahead or thinking of future dreams and goals and therefore are left to the mercy of the wind that often changes directions and speeds quickly and without warning. Now do not get me wrong, we must enjoy the moments that we have and are given to us because the next minute is not guaranteed to us, but all of that is the hands of the Man Above, but those that dont have a string to keep the kite grounded arent going to know where to come back to and whose better hands than God's would you really want to hold on to that string? Then there are those constantly looking to better themselves and others around them that they try so hard that they push themselves and others right into the ground. Their expectations are high, sometimes too high. They don't know how to relax because their brain is kicked into high gear and is stuck there. In order to keep up with their speed, they have to stay ahead. They can't slow down. They might know what they want, but things are moving too fast and time can't be slowed so things pass right on by. One may say that the first choice is one that is laid back and fun, but the other is fast-paced and challenging, leading more to success, but what is success? I know for me, I tend to fall into the later. This then leads one to wonder how then do we find a balance. What is the balance? How do we achieve this balance? What was Mother Teresa's secret in finding that perfect balance, because I guarantee you that is how she was able to do and accomplish all that she was able to.....She found balance!!

As we travel down the long winding road of life we find our journey starting at birth and ending with our death. Some journeys are longer than others, some filled with more windy curves. Others are constant up-hill battles, while others are filled with more downhill coasts. How do we make the most of our journey. If the wheels of a vehicle are in balance, a vehicle can better stay on the road and in between the lines as well as better equipped to handle the times the vehicle slips off the road. A vehicle that has wheels that are not in balance experience a much rougher ride and the chances of the vehicle breaking down when it does swerve off the road are much greater. The same goes with us. When we have balance in life and come to a state of peace and harmony we can slow down and we can think rationally.

For those of still in school, is it really possible to find our balance there....between school, grades, friends, relationships, family, life-hardships, our inner-selves. What about the decisions that lie ahead...Family, Career, Friends, Religious Involvement...What about our priorities? What about all the expectations people put on us. Most importantly, what about the high expectations we put on ourselves. This is a lot for us to handle. We stress, brood, withdraw, hide, cry, hide all the prior, or hurts others. How do we balance life? Do we don't worry, be happy; do we take the hedonistic approach and seek pleasure by enjoying life today for yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come, or do we do nothing and expect that finding the balance is not attainable. I feel perhaps even worse, most of us put on masks and act like everything is fine and fool ourselves into thinking everything is in balance. When strangers try to point that something is not right with our car/life, we say "ahh, they don't know what they are talking about." If an authority figure, family, or loved ones try to offer their opinion, we refute it and say that "They are not in my vehicle, so they do not know what is going on." Perhaps they truly don't because we have pushed them out. If not, then perhaps we are sadly mistaken.

I feel the truth lies within ourselves and a moment comes when we hit a period of self-realization. We realize how little faith we truly have....How little faith we have in God. We are told by society to go so many ways, no wonder we find ourselves not only lost, but not properly balanced in order to handle either the rough road or the smooth road. Society beats us down and pushes us into a corner where we see little choice but to conform just as the weather beats down our vehicles, for you better believe that if hail pounds your car it is going to leave a dent and make its mark. Rain also leaves you with less control and a powerful enough storm can force you into a ditch fearing for your life. When we allow society to dominate us and tell us what we should be doing, our car/life begins to break down until we lose our identity. We lose that passion and desire to purposely head off road to explore what treasures lie beyond the trees on either side of the road. We become complacent and we are no longer wild at heart. We go down the nicely paved road and stay in between the lines riding roughly and we stay content with the bumpy ride. We try to hide that fact by making excuses. We tell our selves that "It is supposed to be that way." Even worse, our cars/lives are so out of balance that we go out of the lines, ride across the snow grooves that are on either side of the road and totally miss that forewarning that we are about to veer off the path. The road is just as bumpy in between the lines as it is when crossing over and hitting the snow grooves. We tell ourselves, "You know, it could be worse," and you are right, it could. However, do you know that it could also be better?

When we realize that we have put God on a back burner and not on the front line, we can begin to find that balance again for it is the first step in beginning to balance out the scale. However, just realizing that is not enough. It is only the first step and if we don't act on it, we stay out of balance. When we put God first, all other things fall into place. God speaks to us and we so often ignore him. I have found that the only time I have been "truly" happy is when I am in sync with his will. When this happens, I am happier with myself, I am happier with others, I am less selfish, less likely to push others by setting too high of expectations, and less likely to expect others to act and respond the way that I want them to. When we expect others to respond the way we want them to, we begin to look at their way as not my way and therefore is not the right way, so we then judge. When we lower those expectations, we find that people respond more favorably and we find even more joy when we are surprised by the kindness shown to us out of love, instead of expecting others to give it to us and give it to us our way. People then truly start doing things out of love rather than obligation. We then begin to pay those simple acts of kindness forward. It takes sacrifice though. When we take our cars into the shop, it costs time and money. Well we have it better with Jesus Christ. He just asks that we give him the time of day and he will provide us with what we need (Philippians 4:19 - "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus).

When God is at the center and we have found our balance and received our tune up, we are at peace, content with what we have and with what God has allowed us to have. We feel better about ourselves and we are happy with what God has given us. We feel renewed and begin to find our identity again. We are able to look past the weather/society beaten, vehicle because it no longer matters. We are in balance. Life is great. We begin to find that desire and passion to explore what treasures God has for us and we being to purposely head off road for an adventure. Perhaps even better yet, we are able to get that brand spanking new 4x4 that can take us anywhere our hearts desire. We are ready to take on the troubles that accompany life on Earth because we are now happy with ourselves and knowing that God has equipped us with the ability to better handle not only the paved road but the rough off roads as well, because now that we are in balance again, we know that as we are veering off, we can better react in a way that puts us back on the nicely paved road. We can slow down and make more rational decisions or for those of us that are stuck and without direction, we find direction.

When we are in sync with God and his will, he begins to take our wheels and re-align and balance them back out, but it is up to us to get into the shop. Once complete, we are given a read-out/self-realization of what was wrong, and how bad out of balance we were. We ask ourselves, "How did our car/our life not just fall apart?," due to being so bad out of balance. Well it would have, had we not finally realized that we were not on the paved road. We were actually about to hit a tree head on and it is then that we realized that we were no longer on the paved road. We needed that tune up.

So, have you found balance in your own life?

* Also read Matthew 6:25-27, Jeremiah 29:11-13, and Proverbs 3:5-6

My First Blog

Hey Everyone,

For my first blog I want to share a video that is very inspirational. I hope everyone finds it that way too. I will be adding videos and talking more about what I am doing down here in Florida in the next day or two. Let me know what you think and Enjoy :)