Monthly Archives: May 2016

SPONTANEOUS DAY

Today is our only full day here at Lake Erie for our mini family trip. We didn’t have anything really planned for this trip. We decided to play everything by ear and go with the flow. I did not expect it to be such a jam packed but absolutely fun and adventurous day with my awesome family.

I won’t go too in detail but this is the overall summary. Donuts for breakfast, found ourselves randomly in a private community which was actually founded by Methodist (my denomination) pastors couple hundred years ago, went to an African Safari drive and fed animals while driving in our car, ate at a little shack that sells the best local fish in Sandusky, ate ice cream at a local dairy factory, went on a ferry ride to the island Put-in-bay, rented a golf cart and drove around the island, then finished the day with Korean barbecue on the lake.

To simply put, it was a good day 🙂 With  my personality I usually have to have things all planned out and go by schedule. So today was just a good reminder that sometimes it’s great to just go with the flow and be spontaneous.

God has blessed this trip beyond our expectations. Giving our family a time of intimacy filled with joy and peace. I am so so thankful 🙂 God is too good sometimes!

I saw God today.

Did you?

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AM I STILL IN OHIO?

Last week, spontaneously my family decided to plan a trip for this Memorial Day weekend. We didn’t want to go anywhere too far or too expensive so we chose to go to Lake Erie. Its only about 3 and a half hours from Cincinnati but we have never been before. We arrived here today 🙂 To be honest I was pretty excited, for a couple of reasons.

The biggest reason I was excited was because of my dad. Since he is getting surgery again in a little bit over a week, that means after the surgery he won’t be able to do much more probably a couple months. So this would be the last trip and time we could all spend time together as a family and go somewhere.

It’s been really hard getting the news that he would have to get surgery again. We actually found out only a day or two after we planned this trip. At first we were contemplating if we should cancel due to finances and such but we decided it would be best for my dad as well as our family to have this precious time together and get our minds off of things.

We decided to head up today after I got off of church. So after I did everything I needed to I rushed home to pack and set off. As soon as we started driving I was just filled with joy to be with my family. The car ride was not boring whatsoever and was actually pretty enjoyable.

After we checked into our hotel we headed over to a state park to grill out. We were right on the lake with a beautiful view. But then the unexpected happened. Rain. I mean pouring rain. Mid-grilling I got completely soaked standing our there with my family. It could have been a bummer but we all looked at it as pretty hilarious. We still needed to eat and the meat was already on the grill so we stood there with our umbrellas over the grill lol. Thank God the rain passed and we were blessed to have a full rainbow form right before our eyes.

Afterwards we didn’t have much planned so decided to just drive around and stop by wherever looked interesting. That is when I was just in awe. I couldn’t believe I was still in Ohio. I felt like I was somewhere in Florida or somewhere like that. Living here all my life it blew my mind that I never came to such a beautiful place.


  

As we were driving around and checking out all these spots I couldn’t help but be thankful from the bottom of my heart. Thankful for God and all the beauty that He has created. And thankful to be with my amazing family. Honestly these are the moments that keep me going. Times of joy and peace with nothing else holding me back. Being in the presence of God with the company of my beloved family.

There are a lot of challenges and hardships that are ahead of our family. But it is such a blessing that God has given us an opportunity like this to be filled with joy and peace and through that remove fear and doubt. All I can say is, God is good.

I saw God today.

Did you?

 

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A PASSION FOR YOUR NAME

We had our second Haiti mission team meeting today. We were blessed to have one of my friends from school who is a second generation Haitian to come and speak to us about Haiti. I think through this meeting, more and more we are starting to receive that compassionate and excited heart for this mission trip.

To end our meeting we all gathered in a circle holding hands praying for different prayer topics. That is when God spoke into my heart and gave me a revelation through a song lyric.

Randomly I thought of the verse in the song “Consuming Fire” that states “consuming fire, fan into flame, a passion for your name”. I couldn’t stop thinking about these words and trying to identify what it meant to me and what God was trying to say.

That is when it hit me. Many times in missions we try to have this firey lesion for missions and the location we are going. Which isn’t neccassirly wrong. But what we need first is a passion for God. And through that passion he will give us the compassion for our mission.

I believe that is the desire that God has for our mission team but for me personally as well. To not just look for a desire for this mission trip but first find that desire and hunger for Him. When we are fully desiring God and reaching for Him, He will give us His heart. That is one of my biggest prayer requests for this mission trip. For us as a team to have the passion for God first.

I am so thankful He revealed His heart to me today. I was in need of these truths. I was able to open my eyes even bigger to see the underlying message and reason of what we are to do.

I saw God today.

Did you?

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JOY BEATS SORROW 

Tonight was our youth pastor’s last Friday night service with us. Leading up to it definitely was pretty sad. Just to know that such a wonderful man/servant/brother of God who has impacted so many lives will be leaving.

But as we sat around in a circle and went around sharing about our memories that we have had with him in the pay years I couldn’t help but smile and be filled with joy. To hear how much he has touched everyone’s hearts through his time with us just had me rejoicing. It all reminded me how thankful and blessed we were to have him with us.

Yes it’s sad to see him go but it brings me joy to know that he will continue to be used by God for even more brothers and sisters out there. That’s what I have learned from sending people off these past years. It’s selfish to just be sad and filled with sorrow. Rather we should be glad and rejoice that God will use that person for His kingdom somewhere else. To spread the love and blessings they have given us here, elsewhere. To further the Kingdom of God 🙂

I saw God today.

Did you?

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WHEN IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE 

A lot of people may already know but my dad broke his femur in his left leg in which he has pre existing polio in December when he slipped and fell in a restaurant. It’s been an uphill battle ever since for him but as well as our family. He is a self employed business owner and since the accident hasn’t been able to work to this day. That means no income but what is harder than that is seeing someone like my dad who is a workaholic and loves what he does not being able to do so.

He had surgery right after the incident and has been recovering at home and doing physical therapy. It has almost been six months now. But starting last week his therapist kept saying he was concerned about the recovery and hasn’t been swing progress. Today was his appointment with his surgeon.

Since I didn’t have anything on my schedule for today I planned on going with him and my family to the doctor but last minute I had this urge of not wanting to go. I just had this weird feeling so I decided to stay back and my mom and sister went with him.

As I was home alone I kept feeling very uneasy. I was texting my sister but wasn’t getting any replies. By that time it was over an hour after the appointment and should be the time for them to be done. I couldn’t wait any longer so I called my sister and asked her how everything went.

That is when she said that my dad needs to get surgery again. My heart dropped and I couldn’t help but have tears in my eyes. This last month or so we finally felt like we had some hope and prayers were being answered. I really believed that I could see light at the end of the tunnel. But when I thought nothing could get worse and only better the worse happened.

Him having surgery again means we have to do all this over. To imagine that we would have to re-live these 6 months over again brought me so much pain. For my family and myself but especially for my dad.

So as soon as I got the news I got on my knees and started praying and had a time of worship. To be honest it was hard to pray. It was hard to have that belief and trust in God. That is when the song “God is Able” started playing.

God encouraged me to sing out these words and really proclaim these truths. Even though it was difficult I was able to find this comfort in Him. To know that God is able to do all things even when we think He can’t.

I trust in Him. I trust in the plans of my God and His unfailing love for my dad and our family. Even though things may not seem the brightest I know God’s will is perfect in His own ways and I have faith in that.

I saw God today.

Did you?

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WHEN ONE IS BLESSED BY MANY 

Instead of having our normal Wednesday bible study for Refresh we had a fellowship picnic at the park. It was for 3 different occasions. First, it was to welcome the high school graduates into Refresh. Second, to send off one of our brothers who will be moving to California this week. Third, to celebrate our worship leader’s birthday which was today. Overall it was an evening just filled with blessings and joy from the Lord but a certain moment really hit me.

So our worship leader has been such a critical member and leader of Refresh. He truly has a gift of worship and praise and he is talented beyond measure even though he may not know it. God uses him every single time he leads us in worship. He is truly a blessing to us from God. Also he is a beloved brother of mine.

But he has been using the same guitar he has been for many many years. It’s warped and hard for him to play and also it isn’t an acoustic electric so he has to borrow other people’s guitar to plug into our sound system for Sunday service.

He is currently in the process of job searching and will be possibly be moving sometime soon back to Jersey or elsewhere. Since it was his birthday I thought that it would be nice to get him a new guitar since he really does deserve it.

So I reached out to all our fellow brothers and sisters in Refresh, even to the ones who have moved away to see if they would all be willing to pitch in for the new guitar. Honestly I was pretty blown away by how many people were willing and wanting to contribute so generously. By their hearts I was reminded how much our worship leader is loved by so many people.

I went and purchased the guitar yesterday. We wanted to surprise him with it at the picnic today. So he leaves his guitar at church so what I did was I went to church and got his case and swapped out the old one and the new one. We didn’t have worship planned for today’s picnic but I told him I brought his guitar and was wondering if he could lead us in a song or two. Of course he agreed because he is always willing. And then he opened up the case and saw the guitar and said “dude this isn’t my guitar” and that is when we all started singing happy birthday.



 Seeing his face light up with that much joy was such a blessing. To know that he has just been blessed through the blessings of many many brothers and sisters. He truly deserves it. And when you see someone get blessed who really deserves it is one of the greatest things to witness. My hope for him on his birthday today is that he would be reminded that he is loved by us but ultimately loved so much by God!

I saw God today.

Did you?

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GOD CENTERED AND SURROUNDED 

I was at a coffee shop tonight with a dear friend that I haven’t been able to hangout with in months. I go to this place often to study and hangout because it’s the only place that opens pretty late around here. But the reason it is open late is because it’s a coffee shop/bar lounge kind of place.

I love meeting up with this friend because God is always the center of our conversation. So the moment we meet up and start talking the conversation was based upon faith and how God has been moving in our lives. But as soon as we started sharing we looked to the table next to us and saw 3 young guys praying together.

To be honest I didn’t expect that because the atmosphere of the place isn’t really ideal for “bible study” or “prayer” since it’s like a bar. So it was a true blessing to see that. Then further into the evening we changed tables and went inside and then I saw another awesome site. 2 older men closing up a little devotion time with bibles in their hands.

That’s when I got a revelation. God doesn’t care about the place or location or the people around, He is there. God is in the most unexpected places.

We met there so we can talk about God through the night and what was awesome was that we weren’t the only ones. It was a nice thing to see different groups individuals in a place you wouldn’t expect to just grow in faith together.

I saw God today.

Did you?

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ZOO. PIZZA. COFFEE. PARK. FRIENDS. 

It has been one fun packed day. Woke up to a text from one of my youth kids asking me if I wanted to go to the zoo with a few of the youth members. To be honest I hesitated a bit because the zoo isn’t really my thing but I just felt it in my heart to take advantage of this opportunity to hangout with them. One of the girls just graduated and will be going to Wheaton in the fall so I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible so I decided to go.

It was a realllllly great time. The weather was perfect, filled with sunshine. We spent a couple hours walking around the zoo sharing good conversation, adundant laughs and taking a lot of pictures to keep the memories.

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After the zoo we went to go get pizza and one of my friends who is the highschool girls bible study teacher came to join us. The group we were with was a good mix of people I usually don’t hangout with so it was really nice getting to all hangout together and have fellowship.

 We were fully satisfied from the pizza and then headed over to Starbucks to get coffee and then went to a nearby park. We continued to have a mini photo shoot and share a great time. It was really nice getting to enjoy the beautiful nature with such awesome company.

Today was just a blessing. I usually hangout with these guys only in a church setting so it was a great change in atmosphere hanging out and doing things outside of church. I was reminded how important it is at times to just have simple fun with your community. Obviously worship and bible study is the most important aspect of Christ-centered relationships but I believe that God encourages some simple pure fun at times as well. Through times like these we are able to get closer and enjoy eachother’s company.

I saw God today.

Did you?

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COMMON FAITH 

Today was the time of the month where I give the message for both sermons. I felt blessed and privileged to give the sermon for our first service today for a couple reasons. First, because next week is a combined graduation service and after that the youth seniors are technically no longer in youth group so I was able to give a message for them. Second, next Sunday is our youth pastor’s last Sunday with us but since it’s combined service today would be his last 9:45 service.

Since it’s a season of transition for our church and also for many individuals God has been putting a lot on my heart. So today’s message was about what it truly means to be brothers and sisters in Christ. No matter what differences we may have or where we may be we will always have one commons factor which is our faith.

Even though I was the one giving the message it was what I needed to hear too. Sending people off that are dear to your heart is not an easy thing to do but this message gave me the comfort and encouragement that I needed. Even though we may not be physically together we are forever unified through Christ. He is the one who brought us together in the first place and if we continue to remain in Him we will remain with eachother.

That’s the beautiful thing about Christ-centered relationships. We always have something to relate to and talk about. God. Even though we may be in different places, seasons and chapters we always have something that binds us together.

The church is much more than a physical place. It’s a community and family. A heart. No matter where our brothers and sisters may be we are always one church under one God.

I saw God today.

Did you?

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BITTERSWEET REALITY.

8 of our youth group kids are graduating this year. Tomorrow 4 of them have their ceremony. To celebrate, their moms came together and prepared a fun filled evening for them before they end this chapter, and they invited me to join them. We all got together at one of the girl’s house for dinner, took a lot of pictures, went on a limo ride downtown, took more pictures and shared a lot of laughs.

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It was an overall amazing night and I was so blessed and thankful to have had the privilege to hangout with all them. But to be honest, deep down all this feels very bittersweet for me. I’m so glad that they are all about to start a new chapter of their lives but it’s sad to see them go.

This class has a very special place in my heart. I’ve seen almost every single one of them grow up in our church. I’ve known most of them for about 10+ years now which means I’ve been with them ever since they were about 7 or 8 years old.

I’ve been blessed to teach them in bible study, give them sermons but most importantly grow together. I have poured out a lot of my heart into these kids but they will never know how much they have poured into me.

I cannot believe that they are already going off to college and becoming adults. It’s crazy how time really does fly by. God has blessed me with the opportunity to see these sons and daughters grow not just in age but in their faith. And I am super excited to see what more God will do in their lives.

I love every single one of these kids from the bottom of my heart. I am so thankful to call them my brothers and sisters. No matter how old we may get or where we are in life they will always be my little siblings.

I saw God today.

Did you?

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