Whew! Busy busy day! I was up until 2am last night finishing the posters for the Impact Launch at Flood. I arrived at Kearny Senior High School at 9am to set up the table. We had wanted to be really creative with our display, but decided to scale it down so that we could get the important information across to everyone as they were leaving the service. I think our biggest obstacle was trying to figure out how to get our display panel to withstand the wind. It’s a good thing Holly brought an extra table and we have a good sense of ingenuity.
The whole point of the day was to get people interested in joining the COTN Impact Team. We were having a sign up for an informational meeting. The Impact Team will be people from the Flood church who want to offer service to COTN. The COTN Impact Team will help plan and man our events, keep us plugged into the community, and get the opportunity to go on Venture Trips.
After the end of the second service once we cleaned everything up for the afternoon, I went directly to National City to help a friend move. This is the third time I’ve helped someone move. There was a group of people from my Flood community group who had come to help. I continue to be blown away by how willing these people are to help each other out. We really are a family. I only had about an hour to help, but there was no way I was going to skip on helping. This is the kind of work I live for. Within 45min we had everything off the moving trunk and into the new apartment.
Then I had to jump in the car and get to a track workout. As soon as that ended, I was home to get a shower and was on my way back to Kearny High for the evening services.
When I arrived I passed a friend of mine who was working security. We talked for a few moments and I recounted to him how God has been working in my life in the past few weeks and how my life is taking a whole new direction. I told him that God could not possibly be any clearer unless he slapped me in the face. To which he replied, “That’s funny, because God told me I should slap you in the face.” I laughed, and no, he didn’t actually slap me, but he did sign up for the Impact Team.
We had a better turn out for the evening services. There was even one girl who I had met during our Wednesday night all-church meeting who came and signed her and her friend. They had mentioned Wednesday that they wanted to get involved in more service projects, so I told them about the Impact launch. God has all these hidden pieces of our lives that he reveals to us in perfect timing.
I am sure glad to be going to bed. I hope all my days are as full and productive as this.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:10
This was my first meal-packaging event. I met Holly and Travis at New Hope Community Church in Chula Vista, CA. Sarah, a woman who sets up meal-packaging events for COTN all across the San Diego, LA areas came down to help us. She brought the supplies and gave us a brief 2 minute training session and we were off and running.
We were a little ambitious with our goal. We had wanted to feed 5,000 kids. Each bag that we package costs $5 to put together and can feed 5 children. So, when you break it down, it’s only $1 to feed a child. The meals from this event are headed to Malawi, Africa. We only ended up packaging a little over 100 bags, but for the size and demographic of the event, we actually did pretty well.
Travis, Holly, and I had a great time teaching the kids how to fill the bags, telling them the rhyme “Lentils, Spice, Chicken, Rice”. At first the kids were just excited to do something hands on, but it was awesome to see how their faces lit up when we explained to them at the end that the one bag they made was going to feed 5 kids just like them in Africa. I remember one kid placing his meal bag in the shipping box and pulling on his fathers arm saying, “Dad, my bag is going to Africa!”
Me, Holly, Travis
Not going to lie, it was HOT! We were so thankful for the canopy tents that Holly’s mother had donated to us. (Although we need a little more practice in taking them down.) Holly and I even took a break to go dance with the children at the main stage.
Sometimes I get so caught up in what I’m doing, already being so engulfed in the purpose, that I forget how what we do touches people. I tend to think more about the children in the other countries more than the influence we have on the people right in front of our faces. God always seems to find a way to catch my attention and make sure I’m not forgetting any aspect of what I’m doing.
Throughout the day, people came up to us and simply donated money because they wanted to support us. I thought that was so cool since none of us were really sure how we would be accepted. We made up the meal packets to account for the donated money and packed things up.
I think we were one of the last vendors out of the lot. As we were putting the last of the supplies into the vehicles, someone came up and handed us a donation. She said that she made a special trip back because she wanted to make sure to donate. That really struck me. I often tend to downplay the things I do and assume that they aren’t that significant. But to see that what I am doing directly influences others is incredible and humbling.
I have always believed in the power of people yet, for some reason, don’t see the power in my ability to inspire. I have always wanted to, and I have always wondered why I had such a passion to ignite people into action but couldn’t quite figure out how. I look back at my journals throughout the years and see reoccurring entries about wanting to get through to people, wanting to share my passions with them, but constantly getting shut out and shut down.
In my head I’ve seen great battles being won, changes being made throughout the whole world, people joining together to serve and make a difference. I continually ask myself why it isn’t happening. Each person has the ability to do great things. Put them together and the outcome becomes greater. Five people sacrificing their lives for a greater purpose can start an office designed to help hundreds and thousands of children….
You know… 5 loafs fed 5,000.
The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. – C. S. Lewis
Today I met with Holly to work on the displays for the Impact Team launch and the meal-packaging event at a local church this coming weekend. We had the doors open, enjoying the beautiful San Diego weather, and had some good discussions as we pieced things together. I finally looked at Holly and said, “I can’t believe this is my job!” I’m sure there will be plenty of difficulties on the road ahead and it won’t always be serine days of arts & crafts, but to know that this is a part of it and that I’m not simply making a pretty poster, but trying to convey a message for a greater purpose is an awesome feeling.
Later today we met with Dr. Victor Runco who is the head of the San Diego running institute. Both Holly and Travis attended the meeting with me. It was very eye opening to hear Dr. Runco tell us everything that is involved with planning a 5K race. I knew there was a lot, but WOW! There was pretty much no way that we would be able to pull it off and make any kind of profit in the short amount of time we had to do it.
This does not mean that the race isn’t going to be happening. As it turns out, he is already planning a race for the same date as us with the same concept. Then he goes on to mention that he has been looking for a charity benefactor! Not only that, but the snags that he’s been trying to work out are things that COTN can provide: child care during the race, marketing, and vendor organization.
It’s incredible when you step back and look at things and finally see the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Had I not moved to San Diego, I would have never met my friend Jenn who (wasn’t able to be my roommate, but) introduced me to my Flood church and community group, I would not have met my other friend Jen who didn’t stop asking me to run with her group and introduced me to Dennis who referred me to Dr. Runco. I would not have volunteered for the Fripple Games and met Holly. It’s just proof that even when you can’t feel God working, He’s always there and if you trust in him it will all eventually make sense.
We left the meeting in high spirits. Dr. Runco needs to look at the numbers to figure some things out. Now we just wait for the green light.
On your mark….. get set….
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
Lift up your eyes. The heavenly Father waits to bless you - in inconceivable ways to make your life what you never dreamed it could be. – Anne Ortlund
God has blessed me with an amazing community of friends and family. I called home and talked to my parents. I told them everything that has been going on and my decision to join COTN full time. Both of my parents fully support me. I can’t imagine what it would be like if they were skeptical. My family has been involved with child sponsorship for years. My father and my sister had even recently volunteered with Compassion International at an event in their area. When I asked my parents to keep me in their prayers, it was the most comforting thing to hear them respond, “We always do. Every night.”
There is a large COTN conference in WA in September. In order for me to go, I have to be accepted as full time staff. Holly and I were rushing around to get all the paperwork filled out. Most of it was easy, but I had to find a church to sign a commission statement. I am positive that Flood would have done it, but I wanted to involve my hometown church to allow them to be involved. Thank goodness my father is so involved in my home church. It came down to the wire, but we were able to get the statement in before the deadline.
Tuesday a few of us met to organize our booth for the Impact Team kick-off at Flood. Some great ideas were presented and we managed to pull together the best ones and decide on the main points we wanted to get across then set a time to be art & crafty. During the meeting I was emailing someone who was giving me advice for the 5k run. We might not need to create an entire race from nothing!
There is a possibility we might be able to combine our efforts with a race that is already scheduled and being planned. That would work great for COTN SD as a learning process for future races. We scheduled to meet with my race connection to discuss our options.
Tonight I was meeting with some friends and found that they knew the man Holly and I scheduled to meet with about the 5k. Not only that, but they offered to gather all of their friends to come to the race as well. We were also exchanging information about the Flood running group and realized that I was already friends with one of the leaders. Now I know why Connectedness is my top strength! I’m so excited about this whole thing falling into place.
Oh, and great news! We might have an office!
For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. – Romans 14:18-19
Have I said it before? GOD PROVIDES!!! Never before have I seen God work in the ways that he is working in my life right now. I know I have always desired to be a servant leader, but to be confident that it is also the desire of God is the most assuring, and humbling feeling. After struggling for so long and feeling like I was going nowhere, things in my life are off and running. There is a part of me that is saying, “Whoa! Slow down! Make sure everything is under control.” But the other side of me is saying, “If this is where you’re being lead, do not hesitate, go!”
I got a text from Holly earlier today stating that she had some big news for me. I called her as soon as I finished work. She explained to me that several things had just happened, specifically with the financial situation for our future satellite office here in San Diego. Turns out that we are going to be matched in our fund raising which means that our initial calculations for raising money to support the office will be cut in HALF! Not only does this mean that there isn’t such a huge task at hand, but we will be able to have an office up and running much sooner than we had thought. Not only that, but we might be able to be working full time by the first of the year!
I don’t quite know how, but all I can do is thank our wonderful creator for taking care of these birds and lilies.
I filled out my official COTN application last night and still have some paperwork and need to be commissioned by a church to be fully approved as a staff member. Now, the most difficult thing I have to face is telling my parents what I have decided to do. Thankfully my family has a strong Christian foundation and my father is even considering getting the schooling to be a minister. This news will allow me to reassure my parents. In all honesty, I can’t wait to tell them. I am only sad that I won’t be able to tell them in person.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8
Tonight was overwhelming. Not to say that this past week has been anything but. Today was payday for me and for the past ten days I had $25 dollars for gas and $7 dollars for groceries. It’s a pretty scary state to be in knowing that I’m jumping into an organization where (for the time) I have no real income. I keep reading and re-reading Matthew 6:25-26, 33 - - 25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
It has been an emotional battle all week with a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Two parking tickets in one week when I can’t even afford to eat, cutting back my hours at work because I can’t afford the gas to get me there, and knowing that no matter how good I am at budgeting and managing my money, nothing will change the fact that my living expenses are more than my income. So I read those verses again, go to church and surround myself with my community, and pray. I think about Holly putting in so much time for COTN and watching her savings dwindle. I think about these children who desperately need this to work even more than we do. I continue to say under my breath, “God will provide” and believe it.
And he does.
For the past few weeks at Flood the sermon has been about leadership. Mainly servant leadership. It’s almost as though they were written specifically for the COTN group. Everything I heard I related to and I made sure to text Holly (who was vacationing in Ohio) to let her know that she NEEDED to listen to the podcasts. This comes after being bombarded with “purpose” messages. The only way God could be clearer is if he personally slapped me in the face!
In God’s perfect timing, he turned everything around and I watched as the puzzle pieces fell into place. I got my first private client, my friend provided me with the financial support to take advantage of a new business opportunity, some friends took me out to dinner for my birthday, and my paycheck was larger than anticipated. Within a matter of days I was back on my feet and for the first time I am able to tithe. All I can do is thank God and reiterate, “GOD PROVIDES!”
I am still certain that I want to come onboard as a staff member even though looking at the numbers on paper makes me want to crawl out of my skin. I guess no one really looks at what it takes to make things happen behind the scenes of charity organizations. It has definitely given me a new respect for them. The man-hours alone to attempt what we are trying to do are sure to be significantly over 40 hours a week and to be able to support someone who is working that, funds have to be raised. It never occurred to me that we would have to raise our own salary. And we will certainly need it if we are quitting our current jobs to devote ourselves full time to this effort.
The trouble is getting other people to understand it. So many people are willing to give money if they know it is going to the children, but have a harder time donating to the “organization of” getting the help to the children. We have our work cut out for us. I can not deny how exciting it is though. To know that we are doing something new. To know that we are building this from the ground up. To know that in a short time, we will be seeing the generosity of San Diego in effect in these other countries and on the faces of these children. Terrifying… but also exciting.
Tonight at the COTN meeting we were presented with our action assignments. (As I like to call it.) Holly has been hard at work putting all of our ideas from the last meeting together into some kind of timeline as well as assigning teams to make these ideas a reality. Did I mention that I’m feeling a little overwhelmed? The timeline is quite an ambitious one. I am in charge of a 5k/10k race. However, I’ve only got 2 months at the most to make it happen. WHAT?!?! If I thought making the commitment to join COTN was a challenge, this is all-out warfare! I do have to admit that this is the type of challenge that thrills me though. In my stomach I am sick with worry, but in my head I’m making lists and agendas and deadlines and thinking, “If we’ve decided to do this, then let’s get it done. Bring it on!”
This first year is a make-it or break-it year and we have a lot on our plates. I wonder where we will be in a few months. Will COTN still be unknown, or will we have planted the seed of awareness? Will we burn ourselves out, or will we rise to the occasion? Will we achieve our goals or will we flounder?
I think these two verses and this quote will be held near to my heart throughout this whole process:
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
With God all things are possible. – Matthew 19:26
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. – Abraham Lincoln
Today was a surprisingly busy day for being the first Friday that I no longer work at the gym. Cutting back hours at the gym made it completely impossible for me to afford to drive the 20min -1hr commute (depending on traffic on the 5) from PB to Encinitas for only 2 hours of work, so I convinced my manager to let me distribute those hours amongst my busier days giving me Monday and Friday off. It’s very scary knowing that I only work 3 days a week now. However, I’m confident that it will turn out as a blessing and will give me more time to devote to COTN.
In my heart I have always had this yearning, this desire to be a part of something bigger than myself. It was an aching to serve, but I never really knew where or how. For years now I have been struggling with what to do with my life. I’ve never really felt that I have been particularly called into anything. I know what I am good at and had pursued careers in them. Although I enjoy what I am doing, there was still a part of me that questioned if this was really what God wanted for me. Sometimes I would lie awake at night stressed out of my mind asking God to give me some kind of direction, but found none. What is my purpose?
For the past few weeks, the word “purpose” has been popping up everywhere. My friends have been talking about Strengths Finder. Michael Jr. came to Flood and talked about finding your purpose and offered a questionnaire that could help you discover what it is. I took the questionnaire and answered questions that I have already asked myself and only found that I know what my talents are, but still have not found a use for them. That Sunday I struggled to hold back tears as we sang: “If you lead, I will follow. If you lead, I will go.” knowing that those words have been my prayer for years.
I finally got my Strengths Finder 2.0 book in the mail and took the online test. For those interested, my strengths are:
I met with Holly and Travis for lunch to go over what my strengths are and then try to place me in a proper role with COTN that will utilize my talents. It was very interesting to listen to Travis explain how my top 5 strengths work together and then offer ideas on how I can use them to benefit the organization as well as what other kinds of people I would work well with. (By the way, I feel that Strengths Finder should be taken by every high school senior prior to graduation.)
I finally feel like I am a square peg being put in the square hole. I am interested to see what I am capable of when I am able to utilize my strengths.
Not everybody can identify a purpose in life. But when you do, and when you pursue it, you will be living the kind of life you feel you were meant to live. And what's more, you will be happy. – Steve Goodier, (Follow Your Bliss)
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. – Robert Byrne
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. – Psalm 32:8