Monthly Archives: August 2010

Fishers of Men

This past Sunday, my mother was brave enough to speak in front of the (rather large) congregation of Central Church and share her experience in Haiti this past June. Because she is so amazing, because she is such a beautiful role model, and because I have the best mom in the world, I want to share her words with you below.

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Bonjour . 

I am excited to share how God is utilizing our church and the funds that Central has so generously given to the ministry of my dear friend Pastor Wawa to bless Haiti and spread the gospel in his desolate country. I want to thank you for your prayers and support, both instrumental in the success and accomplishments of our trip.  We were able to treat over 1,000 Haitians at three medical clinics and share the gospel with almost 1,500 children during four Vacation Bible Schools.  

This was my first missions trip, and I cannot begin to describe what an incredible journey it was. Before we left, I started teaching myself Haitian Creole so that I would be well-equipped to serve  God.  I soon realized, however, that this trip was not about me and what I or any individual could do, but that it was about the body of Christ and the church working together in unison to serve our Lord and Savior. It was truly amazing to see how God orchestrated and selected our team members – four from Memphis, eight from Maine, and two from California –  as well as Wawa’s staff of ten.  Each member was genuinely connected, humbly using their unique, God-given gifts to accomplish our sole mission….to share the love of Christ.

This is about so much more than just a nine day missions trip.  This is about spreading God’s love around the world.  Last year, some members of our group developed an incredible friendship with Pastor Wawa of Haiti, and amazingly, because of just two short-term missions trips, Central has contributed to the construction of a Christian school for 350 students in Haiti, been the catalyst for a new church birthed the week of our June  trip, and will be the cornerstone in the construction of a church to be built in Wawa’s hometown next spring.

At times it was overwhelming seeing the darkness and despair that prevails over this country, yet at the same time humbling to experience the genuine appreciation for our services and the hope we gave to these people.  I pray that I will never minimize or become callous to their needs.  After 9 days of sharing our faith and seeing God move, most of us were not ready to come home to our seemingly sheltered, somewhat empty, and selfish lifestyles.  Since our return, we are trying to determine where God wants to use us next to reach the needy and lost in our own city.

I want to encourage every one of you  to prayerfully consider going on a missions trip.  I regret that I waited until now to experience my first one.  I was amazed and blessed to witness the commitment and dedication of so many people serving God with such a level of enthusiasm. It was so inspiring to see them share their testimonies, work in the medical clinics and VBS, and run around for hours in 100 degree weather playing with the kids.

I plan on returning to Haiti  and have already begun encouraging my friends and family to either join me or pursue a trip of their own. The Harvest is ripe. Let us continue to sow the seed and be fishers of men.

Thank you and God bless you, or as they say in Creole, Merci ak Bondye Beni ou.

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I’m Running a Marathon

It’s official. I have decided to participate in the ultimate running challenge: the full marathon. This December, I’ll be taking on 26.2 miles of pavement in the St. Jude Marathon, and I am so excited for the training, the challenge, and the accomplishment of it all. Rather than make this all about me though, I want my efforts to achieve something bigger and more worthwhile. Thus, I am running as a St. Jude Hero, which means I’ve committed to raising money on behalf of the beautiful children at St. Jude. My fundraising efforts will directly support the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in finding cures and saving the lives of children fighting cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers, with children from all 50 states and around the world benefitting from their research and treatment. St. Jude shares its research freely with the global medical community, and families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of a family’s inability to pay.

A group of my dear friends and I have created a team, titled Miles for Smiles, in order to raise money for this cause.  I have witnessed the tragedy of cancer firsthand, and I hate it. I have committed to personally raising $1,000 of the $4,000 our team has pledged to raise, and I need your help! I would be deeply grateful for your support and contribution to this honorable cause.  Please make a donation to support my efforts for St. Jude and join the fight against childhood cancer. No matter how small the denomination, every bit will help and serve as encouragement as I train for this endeavor.

Please visit my St. Jude Hero donor webpage and share the wealth! Thank you so much for your support!

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Give / Get

        

It’s that time again! For the second time this year, Gap, Inc. has invited Big Brothers Big Sisters to benefit every time you shop at a Gap, Inc. store! This coupon is good for 30% off any in-store Gap, Old Navy or Banana Republic purchase from today, Thursday, August 26th through Sunday, August 29th.  The best part is 5% of what you spend is given directly back to Big Brothers Big Sisters!

Last spring,  Big Brothers Big Sisters raised over $200,000 in just three days, just through people like you shopping and distributing the coupon to friends, networks, coworkers, and families. Let’s make it happen again!

Happy shopping! 

 

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Been There, Done That

Upon reviewing my bucket list, I realized that there are things I would have put on the list, except I had already done them. Instead of leaving them off entirely and risking them floating into oblivion and suffering an utterly meaningless existence, I felt compelled to make them feel significant and stately, and so I have created a list of things that were bucket list-worthy, except they were too accomplished to be included. After jotting down the obvious experiences, I discovered this is much harder than you would think, and that I’m really hungry and might start gnawing on my desk if I don’t eat soon, and so that marks the end of this exercise. I’m sure it’s not comprehensive, but it’s something. And something is better than nothing, right?

1. Visit Italy, and stay in a Tuscan villa

2. Admire Michelangelo’s famous statue of David in person (exquisitely breathtaking)

3. Whitewater raft (the Ocoee)

4. Run a half marathon (St. Jude Half Marathon, 2008)

5. Graduate college with a 4.0.

6. Earn recognition as a Junior Fire Chief (I have the badge to prove it!)

7. Visit Ireland

8. Parasail

9. Mentor as a Big Sister in the Big Brother Big Sister program

10. Pass the Series 7 and Series 66

11. Quit my job

12. Do a back handspring

13. Purchase (and pay off) my own car

14. Feed a panda

15. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa

16. Watch Eric Clapton live in concert

17. Dip my feet in the Mediterranean Sea

18. Snorkel in Cancun

19. Wander the streets of Amsterdam

20. Eat the most delectable waffles in existence in Belgium

21. Enjoy the view from the top of the Sears Tower

22. Hug Jack Johnson

23. Water ski

24. Start a blog

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Ziplining Through the Trees

While in Nashville last weekend, Jax and I went on a zipline canopy tour, kind of as a birthday treat, kind of because we thought it sounded cool, but regardless of the occasion, it was awesome. Neither of us had done anything like this before, nor did we have any friends who were aware of this excursion site, so we had no idea what to expect. Being the adventurers that we are, we decided to check it out and report back for all of those interested in participating in a completely random and unique activity.

We drove about 20 minutes outside the city and eventually made our way to Kingston Springs, where we climbed obscure dusty roads, eventually stopping at Adventureworks, located amidst 40 acres of wooded hills nestled in a scenic bend of the Harpeth River.

We ended up being the only people there, which worked to our major advantage (no waiting, one-on-one instructor time, and a round two), so it was just us and our awesome  guide making our way through the zipline course. We suited up in safety harnesses and helmets and were given brief instruction on how to connect the pulley device to the steel support cables and make a graceful landing, and then it was time to hit the course.

The first two zips are considered bunny slopes, just to help you get a feel for it all. During my first couple runs, I gripped the rope tightly as I swung across, feeling as though it might provided some sense of safety, but after I became more comfortable with zooming through the sky, I let go and enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness. As we moved through the course, the ziplines hung higher (up to 85 feet from the forest floor) and longer (roughly 650 feet), were faster, and required climbing ladders and jumping from raised platforms. They even had a tandem zipline, where Jax and I got to fly across the forest together. The tour includes 10 zip lines varying in length and height and requires a little hiking in between each. Because we had the place to ourselves, and because we didn’t join the dirty pants club (initiation through messy landings), our guide let us go through twice. Bonus! While traveling at a speed of 25 to 30 miles per hour off the ground with little support is both exhilarating and breathtaking, it does not make for easy picture taking. I’ve included a few, but they really don’t do the whole experience justice.

We loved the adrenaline rush and laughed through the whole thing. I’m sure it’s not comparable to ziplining in more exotic locations, but if you’re looking for fun in Tennessee, I suggest you give it a whirl. If you want more details, I’ve got them, just ask!

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Jax and I ventured to Nashville last Thursday to watch Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rock the Bridgestone Arena, and we were thoroughly pleased with what we saw (and heard). Thanks to my dad’s influence, Tom Petty has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. His tunes have kept me company through many a road trip, long run, and evening with friends. Even at age 59, Petty’s voice is top-notch, and his band is as rocking as ever. I tried and failed to remember the whole set list, but I can report that he played almost all the hits you would expect: Free Fallin, Listen to Her Heart, Breakdown, I Need to Know, Refugee, Don’t Come Around Here No More, I Won’t Back Down, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Learning to Fly, Into the Great Wide Open, You Don’t Know How It Feels, and many more. After all that, the band emerged for a three song encore, and they ended the show with one that was on my set list wish list, American Girl. There were a few others I was hoping for and didn’t get to hear, but there was definitely no room for complaint. As if Tom Petty wasn’t awesome enough in and of itself, Crosby, Stills & Nash were the opening act, and they were just as impressive as the main event. I was too busy dancing and singing along to fiddle with my camera, so I’ll leave you with a shot that I take no credit for.


Well she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there
Was a little more to life
Somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
Yeah, and if she had to die
Tryin’ she had one little promise
She was gonna keep

~ American Girl, Tom Petty

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Paint a Piece

Last week, my Little Sister and I went on an outing to Paint a Piece to channel our inner artists and create some custom pottery. The idea is this: you select a blank canvas, of which there are tons of options, then use paint, stencils, stamps, your imagination, and creativity to transfer your vision to the fresh pottery piece. The possibilities are endless. Sit me in front of a blank canvas, and I am a happy girl.

Natasha and I decided we would paint plates. As we concentrated on our artwork, we chattered and laughed, seeking each other’s opinion and encouragement throughout the process. We debated which colors we would use, what resources we would employ, who our pieces were for, and what they would say.  Once we were satisfied with our artwork, we left our pieces for the mandatory 3 to 5 days needed for glazing and firing. I have since retrieved our masterpieces and present you with the finished products below:

Predictably, mine is in reference to The Beatles, which just seemed like the right thing to do. Did I mention I’m reading a 983 page Beatles biography at the moment? And that I will have many interesting facts to share with you when I am finished? Just something for you to look forward to.

Natasha decided to make a gift for her mother’s upcoming birthday, and I know she’ll just love it, because how could she not?

I get a deep sense of satisfaction from being involved with art, whatever form that may take, and she had a smile on her face from start to finish, which leads me to believe that we will be adding this activity to our repertoire. If you are looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon, take a kid in your life to Paint a Piece, and I guarantee fun will be had by all!

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World’s Happiest Countries

I just stumbled across this list of the happiest countries in the world, according to a recently released Gallup Poll based on data collected between 2005 and 2009. Survey participants were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with their lives and how they had felt the previous day (to gauge their happiness in daily activities). You’ve possibly seen these stats, or at least heard about the results. I’m not here to analyze the data, just thought it was interesting and worth sharing with you. I originally planned on emphasizing the countries that I have either visited, am soon visiting, or want to eventually visit, but then I realized that task was pointless, as I would basically be sharing with you a fully highlighted list.

 

1   Denmark Europe
2   Finland Europe
3   Norway Europe
4   Sweden Europe
4   Netherlands Europe
6   Costa Rica Americas
6   New Zealand Asia
8   Canada Americas
8   Israel Asia
8   Australia Asia
8   Switzerland Europe
12   Panama Americas
12   Brazil Americas
14   United States Americas
14   Austria Europe
16   Belgium Europe
17   United Kingdom Europe
18   Mexico Americas
18   Turkmenistan Asia
20   United Arab Emirates Asia
21   Venezuela Americas
22   Ireland Europe
23   Puerto Rico Americas
23   Kuwait Asia
23   Iceland Europe
26   Colombia Americas
26   Jamaica Americas
28   Cyprus Asia
28   Luxembourg Europe
30   Trinidad and Tobago Americas
30   Argentina Americas
30   Belize Americas
33   Germany Europe
34   El Salvador Americas
35   Chile Americas
35   Uruguay Americas
35   Qatar Asia
38   Guatemala Americas
38   Malta Europe
40   Czech Republic Europe
40   Italy Europe
42   Honduras Americas
43   Spain Europe
44   Dominican Republic Americas
44   France Europe
46   Bolivia Americas
46   Ecuador Americas
48   Paraguay Americas
48   Bahrain Asia
50   Guyana Americas
50   Greece Europe
52   Nicaragua Americas
52   Jordan Asia
54   Belarus Europe
54   Kosovo Europe
56   South Korea Asia
56   Poland Europe
58   Saudi Arabia Asia
58   Pakistan Asia
58   Slovenia Europe
61   Croatia Europe
61   Montenegro Europe
63   Malawi Africa
63   Peru Americas
63   Moldova Europe
63   Lithuania Europe
67   Libya* Africa
67   Botswana Africa
67   Cuba* Americas
70   Kazakhstan Asia
70   Taiwan Asia
70   Portugal Europe
73   South Africa Africa
73   Lebanon Asia
73   Russia Europe
73   Ukraine Europe
73   Romania Europe
73   Slovakia Europe
79   Thailand Asia
79   Bosnia and Herzegovina Europe
81   Iran Asia
81   Hong Kong Asia
81   Singapore Asia
81   Japan Asia
85   Somaliland Africa
85   Algeria Africa
85   Nigeria Africa
85   Uzbekistan Asia
85   Indonesia Asia
90   Estonia Europe
91   Myanmar* Asia
91   Bangladesh Asia
91   Serbia Europe
94   Malaysia Asia
94   Philippines Asia
96   Cameroon Africa
96   Tunisia Africa
96   Zambia Africa
96   Yemen Asia
96   Vietnam Asia
96   Palestinian Territories Asia
96   Macedonia Europe
103   Turkey Asia
103   Kyrgyzstan Asia
103   Azerbaijan Asia
103   Hungary Europe
103   Albania Europe
108   Central African Republic Africa
108   Ethiopia Africa
110   Namibia Africa
110   Angola Africa
110   Armenia Asia
110   Iraq Asia
110   Latvia Europe
115   Mozambique Africa
115   Egypt Africa
115   Mauritania Africa
115   Zimbabwe Africa
115   Morocco Africa
115   Sri Lanka Asia
115   India Asia
115   Syria Asia
115   Georgia Asia
115   Afghanistan Asia
125   Kenya Africa
125   Ghana Africa
125   China Asia
128   Congo (Brazzaville) Africa
128   Guinea Africa
130   Sudan Africa
130   Djibouti Africa
130   Madagascar Africa
130   Nepal Asia
130   Mongolia Asia
130   Laos Asia
130   Tajikistan Asia
137   Uganda Africa
137   Tanzania Africa
137   Senegal Africa
137   Bulgaria Europe
141   Chad Africa
141   Liberia Africa
141   Mali Africa
144   Ivory Coast Africa
144   Congo (Kinshasa) Africa
144   Benin Africa
144   Haiti Americas
148   Niger Africa
148   Rwanda Africa
148   Burkina Faso Africa
148   Sierra Leone Africa
148   Cambodia Asia
153   Comoros Africa
153   Burundi Africa
155   Togo Africa
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