12 Years…Where Were You?

Today marks 12 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks.

12 years…

It is astonishing how quickly the time has gone by, but I have never forgotten what it was like that morning. I was in the 7th grade, and I remember it like it was just yesterday. I never thought I would remember a single day so clearly, but I do.

My parents woke me up early and told me to go look at the tv. This was weird for two reasons: both of my parents were in my room and they told me watch tv…I spent the next few hours glued to the tv, watching attack after attack. Those new stories and images are forever burned into my mind’s eye.

I was at home with my family, before going to school and being with my friends…where were you?

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Let’s Go Deeper…Camp 2013

Just a couple days ago I got back from an amazing week. I recently started going to a new church (more on that later, but it is a great place!) and was able to go to camp with the students. I was unsure I would be able to get five days off of work since it is our busy season, so I put it in God’s hands…well, long story short I got the time off and was able to go!

Our church rented a large group campsite at Alder Lake, near Mount Rainier here in Washington. Unlike most church groups who go to an established camp with cabins and the like, our church does everything on our own. We met up a few days before camp to load a U-Haul with tents, grills, refrigerators, bleachers and the like. Then we met up at the church on Monday, loaded into cars and bus, and headed south.

So there we were, 100 students and leaders at a giant camp group site with a week before us…and let me tell you, it was awesome! The week was full, we went non-stop, the way camp should be. From group games (geezerball, capture the flag, four-way volleyball, etc…) to afternoon activities (swim time at the beach, canoeing, inter-tubing/powerboats, rock jumping, etc…) the days were packed. The best thing was, there was still so much more to the day than that.

While the activities and games were a large part of camp, perhaps the most impactful times were when we were gathered as a group listening to testimonies, worshiping together, and learning from our lead pastor about how to go deeper in areas of commitment, love and more. It can often be difficult to put into words times like these. The best way I can put it: God moved. One of the students put it best, he said, “The Holy Spirit was there and was moving during worship.” Students and leaders alike felt God there, each experiencing something different but equally special.

For the week I was a counselor for 7th and 8th grade boys. I shared a tent with 5 guys and we spent the day doing activities and having good conversations. It is slightly ironic, but for the two summers I worked at a camp, I was never a counselor. Heading into the week I was a bit nervous to be in this role, but my nerves were quickly dissipated. The guys were lots of fun and full of energy. We had good conversations, random/goofy conversations and everything in between.

Now that I have been back for a couple days, I have had time to reflect about my time at Alder Lake with North View Church. It has been difficult to answer people when they ask “How was camping?” I guess the best answer would be that it was amazing. For me, I now know many of the students, leaders and parents from North View, the church I have decided to start attending on a regular basis. Not only that, but God did speak to me and I now desire to know Him more…but most of that I am keeping for myself, for now.

In short, it was an amazing week. Students came to Christ and many others recommitted their lives to Him. We had lots of fun with games, activities and skits. I made new friends and had a great week. I look forward to more great times ahead with these people.

Pictures to come…eventually ūüėČ

#letsgodeeper

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10 Minutes

I meant to write about this a few weeks ago, but time as escaped from me. However, I still find it worthwhile so here you go!

A number of weeks ago, the forest fire season began in earnest across the country. Perhaps the most noted was the large fires in Colorado. These fires appeared relatively quickly and ravaged the land, destroying homes and changing people’s way of life. I do not remember the final number, but the fire left behind hundreds of destroyed homes and will cost well into the millions.

Due to the proximity to the fire, many people had to be evacuated and did not know if they would have a home to return to when the fire had passed. During this time of evacuation, I heard stories of families who had 10 minutes to evacuate their homes…that is 10 minutes from the time there is a knock on the door to when they had to be driving away…10 minutes.

This got me thinking: what would I do with only 10 minutes to pack and leave. 

Honestly, it was difficult to think at first what I would grab and what would I leave behind, knowing full well that I may never be returning to my home. So after some thought and walking through my house, here is a rough idea of what I would grab:

  • My dog would be the first “thing” I would grab, she would go in the car right away to reduce the chance of her getting in the way
  • Photos. Many of my families photos are in albums and in one place in our home, I would grab all I could and get them in a car. Many of our photos do not have digital backups and could never be replaced.
  • Irreplaceables. There are a couple things in my house that could never be replaced and things I would hate to loose…jewelry from past generations, couple of books (first editions/autographed and my Bible) and a couple random trinkets (Ken Griffey Junior signed ball, Eagle Scout medal). I would only go for the small ones that I could quickly grab, toss in a box and put in the car.
  • Electronics. I would not grab my x-box or tv, but would make an effort to grab my laptop, external hard-drive and the tower component to our family computer.
  • Anything else. Time depending I would make an effort to grab anything else that would be hard to part with or replace…quilts my mom made, awards, etc…

Now I know it is one thing to think of these things when just sitting at home and looking around, but during an emergency it would be entirely different. Above all, and above myself, I would make sure my family was safe and out of harm. We do have several cars and actually talked about who would take which car and what would be in each, based on the amount of time we would have to pack and leave. Each of us have different ideas of what is important, it would be interesting to see what we ended up with. In all honesty, I would want to pack up the rest of the family and get them on their way before I left.

So there are just a couple thoughts I had regarding having to pack and leave with only a few moments notice. It is a good reminder to remember that overall stuff is just stuff and nearly everything can be replaced, but chances are there are some things that would be difficult to replace and may be worth grabbing as you head out the door.

Now here is my question for you…there is a knock on the door, someone tells you it is time to go and you have 10 minutes to pack and leave:¬†What do you grab?

You have 10 minutes.

Go.

I Will Remember

Just a few days ago, our nation was brought to a halt as news spread about a school shooting on the East Coast. Details were hazy at first, but as the day progressed, we learned more about what would be one of the worse school shootings in history and one of the biggest tragedies our nation has seen in many years.

Around 9:30 AM on December 14, a masked gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. For the next nearly half an hour, this gunman (who for purposes I will touch on in a moment I will not name) terrorized the school. In the end, 27 people were killed before he took his own life.

This act of violence and uncaring shook the nation and sent waves of emotions surging through the heart of everyone who heard about the shooting. Calling it what it is, this was an act of pure evil. I have heard many arguments in the last few days that state the attack was because we do not have enough gun laws or because of other reasons. to me, this is simply not true.  It goes above any rules or laws man has set in place, and reflects the true brokenness of our world and the sin within man. This was not an act of God, but an act of evil, evil that would have found a way no matter what obstacle man had tried to raise.

It would be so easy to get caught up in the motivation and the plotting behind this act, but there is no way to fully understand an evil act. I am not one who can judge what this young man did, but I can do my part by not letting the memories of the victims fade. You see, I choose to remember the victims and their bravery over the perpetrator. For that reason, I chose to not name him, for if we keep talking about him, the victims will be forgotten and he will be immortalized for his actions. I will not give him the gratification of his physical actions, and will leave judgement of his soul to my God.

Instead, I choose to remember the staff, teacher and children who were taken from us. I will remember the bravery of the teachers and use it as a lesson to live selflessly and put others before myself; each of these staff members showed such a clear Christ-like example, one that shall not be soon forgot. The truly lived the words of John 15:13, which states: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

I will remember:

  • Nancy Lanza, 52. Mother. Killed by her son at home, before the school shootings.
  • Rachel D’Avino, 29. Teacher. Used her body to block students.
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47. Principal. Lunged at the gunamn in an attempt to stop him.
  • Anne Murphy, 52. Teacher. Killed among her students.
  • Lauren Rousseau, 30. Teacher. Killed among her students.
  • Mary Sherlach, 56. School Psychologist. Ran with Hochsprung.
  • Victoria Soto, 27. Teacher. Hid her students in her classroom and shielded them.
  • Charlotte Bacon, 6. Student
  • Daniel Barden, 7. Student
  • Olivia Engel, 6. Student
  • Josephine Gay, 7. Student
  • Dylan Hockley, 6. Student
  • Madeline Hsu, 6. Student
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6. Student
  • Chase Kowalski, 7. Student
  • Jesse Lewis, 6. Student
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6. Student
  • Grace McDonnell, 6. Student
  • Emilie Parker, 6. Student
  • Jack Pinto, 6. Student
  • Noah Pozner, 6. Student
  • Caroline Previdi, 6. Student
  • Jessica Rekos, 6. Student
  • Avielle Richman, 6. Student
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6. Student
  • Allison¬†Wyatt, 6. Student

My heart and prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. If I could, I would tell the families that they are not alone as they struggle to work through this. People are joining together all around the world and lifting them up. Through this horrific act, I pray for families to be healed and for God’s love and grace to be evident. For although this was an act of evil, our God is greater and will someone use this to show His greatness, in ways we can not yet imagine.

I will remember.

Will you?

Show your support to Sandy Hook, read stories from families and leave your prayers/thoughts: http://www.facebook.com/#!/121412NEWTOWNCT

Checking Out!

Well, today was my last day at Silver Cloud Hotel. I have known it was coming for a few weeks, but it does feel a bit surreal to have this day finally arrive. I end on great terms, nearly 11 months to the day of starting as the Sales and Catering Coordinator.¬†Today has been a day of “lasts” which mirrors my first day…my last commute to Bellevue, my last morning hotel coffee, my last clock in/out, etc…

I am so thankful and blessed by the opportunity to work here and gain real world experience in the areas of sales, catering, hospitality and other related fields. I have made friends with my coworkers and together we have been through a lot in the past (nearly) year. Working everyday with these people has been a true experience and each of them has taught me something new. I pray God continues to bless them in way even they could never imagine. I have learned a good amount about myself during this time too, both personally and professionally…and I am excited to take what I have learned and apply it in a new way at a place I love.

I end my employment here excited for the next chapter of my life.

This!

I must say, whenever I hear this song, I get so excited for the day that I look back and see how the pieces of my life have fallen together. I may not see it all now, but God has a plan and is using every aspect of my life and each circumstance/experience to build me toward a future He has planned. I know the day will come when I look back and see how it all lead my to….this.

Met ‘Em!

In case you did not know, the Newsboys just happen to be one of my all-time favorite  bands. Their music has helped me through so many different chapters in my life. I have kept up with it as they have changed and adapted over the years, and I always enjoy it. Sure, like most bands, they have gone through some personnel changes but they have been around for decades and their music still echos across the globe Here are a couple examples of their powerful worship music from different periods:

 

Well, this beings us to this past Saturday, October 6th, a great day indeed! It was similar to most of my Saturdays these days. I got ready to work a concert with 105.3, the local Christian radio station I work for part time. The concert was at Overlake Christian Church and the headliner was the Newsboys, featuring Building 429 and local band The Acclaim.

I had the privilege of leading the promotions teams for 105.3 at the event, which meant leading the Meet and Greet with the headliner..which meant the Newsboys! After some Q&A between the audience and the band, I watch as the 200 M&G attendees stood and had their picture taken with the guys. Once they were all through, I finally got to meet the group that has meant so much to me! Here are a couple pictures from there:

Ashley and I with the Newsboys!

Guitar signing!

 

 

More signing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even got to be on stage while they opened their set!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, it was a great evening! I have been to several Newsboys concerts, and have even been able to work a couple, but this was by far the best. I got to meet one of my top favorite bands of all time, how could it not have been a great shift??

Also, be sure to check out my “Bucket List” page…one more item checked off!