Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bucket List

Having a "Bucket List" seems like something a lot of people have. Whether it is something done half-heartedly as a homework assignment, something done after a sudden illness or something done after watching the movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, many people have such a list. I'm not entirely sure when, or why, but a while back I started The list sits on the desktop of my computer.  down different things that filled my bucket list. The list sits on the desktop of my computer. There are certain things I want to accomplish before my time on Earth is done. Specific things I want to see, or experience. This past weekend I was able to cross off an item on my bucket list: 
See a game at Anfield with my brother. 

Anfield is home to the greatest soccer team out there, Liverpool FC. Okay, maybe they're not having the greatest season right now, and they haven't won a major trophy in quite a while, but they're still my favorite soccer team. When I was a freshmen in high school I was able to travel to Liverpool and take a tour of the stadium. Seeing the stadium, smelling the grass, and walking through the locker room made me an instant fan. Ever since then, I have wanted to get back to the stadium and see a game.

This past weekend my brother flew to London, and I made the short flight to meet him there. It was such an incredible and rich weekend. I don't get to spend a lot of time with my brother, so whenever we are together I soak in every minute. The weekend proved to be a time where we could catch up on what has been going on in our lives, but also simply enjoying being together. Sometimes I have to laugh because when we're together we're not always talking, sometimes there are long moments of silence. But I'm completely content in those moments because simply being in the presence of my brother is good enough for me.

We had some time together on Friday night to go out and enjoy the city of London. Despite the constant drizzle, I truly enjoyed walking around the city. I was thrilled to in a sense simply sit back and watch my brother be himself. I am amazed and envious of the way in which he can instantly befriend anyone and everyone. His sense of humor and sharp wit make him entertaining to be around, and an unforgettable customer. You simply need to ask our waiter at an Indian restaurant whether or not Philip wanted something "spicy" to understand my brother's ability to get along with anyone. On the train up to Liverpool we became friends with a guy named Darren (I say "we" because we all met him, but it was really Philip who initiated everything). Darren is a season ticket holder who showed us how to get a taxi to the stadium, where to get some classic fish N chips, and hang out with the locals before the game. On the train ride back we made more friends with more Liverpool fans, and Philip even got a few of them singing a Rascal Flatts song on the train. Truly an unforgettable time.

Of course, there was the actual game that we saw. I love soccer, and love watching the game. I am always amazed at how fast the speed of play is, and how tactically sound the players are. My favorite player is Steven Gerrard, who plays for Liverpool. I had a great time watching him play and studying how he moved, and how he passed. Thankfully Liverpool pulled out a 1-0 victory. They didn't play particularly well, but a victory is a victory. We'll take it. 

I want to say a huge thank you to my brother who made this all happen. It was a phenomenal weekend, and one I will not forget. I have dreamed of getting to a game and you made it better than I could have ever anticipated. Thank you. 
You'll Never Walk Alone. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Running Through Life update

It has been a while so I wanted to take some time today and give a bit of an update on the book. For those unaware of exactly what I am talking about, you can check out this post here from April and this one from a year ago in October where I first introduced the concept and my plan.

I am continually amazed at how much work it takes to complete this project. Some days there is more to be done than others, but right now it seems as though everyday there is something to do in order to take the necessary steps toward completion. It is a lot of work, but don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it. It has been a great process and something that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It has been an eye opening experience that has taken a lot of dedication, persistence, and patience. I have stated to some people, that had I known how much work this was going to require, I don’t know that I would have started it. In this instance, I am thankful for my ignorance.

Over the past few months the publishers have been proofreading and editing the manuscript. While they were doing that, I was working alongside the design team to create the front and back cover. They requested for me to write a little blurb to be used on the back cover, and something to be used for an “about the author” section. I found writing those to be very awkward and unnatural, so I actually had a friend work on it for me! We also finalized the cover, which I am very excited about. Not being extremely artistic, I was excited to see what was drawn up, and the way everything came together.

Within the past few weeks the publishers sent me their edits and changes, and asked me to give one final read-through. When I found a quiet night or a free weekend (which doesn’t happen often here) I sat down and once again re-read everything. Not being the best at small and minute details on a tedious project, I found myself struggling a bit to muster the energy and desire to tackle this part of the work. However, this past weekend I was finally able to finish my personal editing and once again send it back to the publisher. One final look from them, and then one more glance by me (I told you…it’s a lot of work) and this step will be over. I’ll exhale a big sigh of relief when that happens.

Perhaps the most exciting addition of late has been the creation of a Facebook page for the book (check it out here). I’m not one who is highly motivated nor competent with social media but I believe this page is a positive thing. It was officially launched last week and my goal was to get 50 people to “like” it on the first day. By the end of the day I was well over my goal, and finished upwards of 75. It was a great way to generate some excitement and buzz about the book. It was also a good way for me to inform people about the project. There were a number of people who had only heard small murmurs about the book, or had not heard anything at all. Now it is definitely out in the open and public knowledge. I hope to use this page as a way to inform everyone about the progress being made and other information about the book between now and the date of publication.

Speaking of publication…as of now there is no set date for when the book will be released. The general timeframe is somewhere around February or March. My original goal was to have it completed and ready for Christmas – as I thought it would make a great stocking stuffer. However, after telling people that it might be available in February I came to this really cool realization; if the book is published in February, from start to finish it will have taken me 26 months. To me, that sounds like a very fitting time frame for a book written about a marathon. When a final date has been set you can be certain that I will post something and provide you with the information needed to acquire a book.

As many may know, I enjoy setting goals for myself. It helps keep me on track and helps me create a vision for where I want to go. I have created the goal to sell 100 copies of the book. I think that is very manageable, I do not feel as though that will be easy, but I don’t feel as though it is out of reach. My purpose in this has never been to sell an insane amount of copies, it has never been to make money (because I will most likely lose money on the project). My purpose has been to write because I simply enjoy writing. I have the desire to publish a book and believe I came up with a unique idea for a book, and wanted to do it. 100 is a good even number that is manageable. Hopefully I can achieve that, but if not, I won’t lose any sleep over it. The ultimate reward is to have a final copy in my hands, everything else is just an added bonus. Please feel free to spread word about the book, and to think of those who may enjoy reading a copy.

Overall I am thrilled with the adventure this has taken me on. It has had ups and downs with struggles and joys. I’ve had a lot of energy, I’ve found myself getting tired. I’ve been encouraged, and had many moments of discouragement. It hasn’t been a quick easy sprint. It’s been a long process…kind of like a marathon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


No academics. Plenty of gelato. Lots of sunshine. Ancient ruins. Rowdy bus rides. Non stop time with students. Walks on the beach. Amazing pasta and the best peaches I've ever had in my life. Those are a few of the ingredients that made up an absolutely amazing trip to Italy with the senior class.
In the time since our return I have been asked multiple times how the trip went. Awesome. Phenomenal. Incredible. Memorable. Moving. Significant. These are all words that commonly come out of my mouth. Yet for some reason I don't feel that any of them do it complete justice. The word I keep coming back to is; Magical. The trip was simply magical.
I feel as though I could venture into many different stories explaining why the trip was magical, but to keep myself from rambling I will limit myself to two different occasions that left the greatest impact on me. But before I get to those stories I want to explain what my vision was, and what my prayer was for the trip.
Each morning in my quiet time I prayed two simple prayers: 1) That God's love would be evident in my life - that it would overflow in my actions, and that I would be a messenger of His grace and love. I prayed that the root of my laughter, smile, and joy would be evident and point back to Jesus. 2) I prayed that I would have significant interactions with the students. Whether it be shared experiences, conversations, or something else. I wanted to rub shoulders with the students and share this trip with them in a significant way. Honestly...I was blown away by the way in which these simple prayers were answered EVERY DAY. There were multiple days where I found myself in a conversation and would whisper to God, "THIS conversation is from you, thanks!" Then...a few hours later I would find myself in another conversation and say the same thing. Truly incredible.

One of the memories I will always carry from this trip came from our second night there. One goal for the trip was class unity. We wanted the class to bond and get to know each other better. With this in mind we had the students participate in a form of speed dating. It was hilarious to watch, but phenomenal to watch the students absolutely engaged and loving the interaction with their classmates. Throughout the game I was keeping a close eye on a few students who struggle socially. I knew for a few this was a stressful event and forced them out of their comfort zone, but I was praying it would be a positive thing. The following day, I was talking with one of the students I was watching closely as we were getting ready to board the bus. As we were talking a different student came up to us full of excitement and threw her arm around the student I was talking to and said, "We officially met last night and now we're friends!" On more than one occasion during the week I saw the two of them sitting together engaging in conversation. I got to witness one new friendship form, and I swear, that in itself made the trip worth it for me.

The other memory I will cherish comes from our final night. We had just boarded a water taxi to cart us across the canal in Venice and one of our students sweet-talked his way into the cabin of the ship and hooked his iPod up to the driver's speakers. The ferry ride turned into a goofy dance party. I'm generally one of the last ones onto the dance floor (unless we're talking ballroom or country line dancing) but this time I figured, "why not?" I joined with the three students near me and we had a blast dancing. It was hilarious. Later that night I had a few students come up to me who had watched us dance and said, "It looked like you were having SO much fun. It was as if you hadn't danced for 10 years and you were trying to make up for all the lost time!" I had to clarify that they were complimenting me on the fun I was having, and not saying, "you were so bad at dancing, it looked like you haven't danced in 10 years." Since our return to Germany I received a note from a student who wrote, "when I saw you dancing, it made me feel comfortable to dance and be myself." I am thankful because, even in my goofy dancing, students were able to see joy and felt comfortable. Later that same night, a student came up to me and said, "You have been smiling all day and all night." Hmm..sounds like a direct answer to one of my prayers!
It was simply magical.

Below is a link to a video I made that will hopefully give you some visuals from the trip. I realize the music in the slideshow may not be your typical slideshow music. The song is, "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman. I have been listening to that album, and that song in particular, a lot recently. I wanted this song to be in the background of the slideshow because I particularly like the line that reads, "For all your goodness I will keep on singing, Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find." Commonly throughout the trip I had to pause, look around, and came to one simple conclusion, "I am doing exactly what I was created to do." That realization filled me with joy. It brought me to a place of praise and worship. It was simply one reason to sing praise. I was walking around praising Jesus for the experiences, for the conversations, for the joy, for the laughter. I felt as though I was exactly where God wanted me to be, even while watching speed dating, and having an impromptu dance on a boat.

Video link:
Password: rome2012