Draft Dodger

Draft Dodger

I completed my travel arrangements today for my trip next week to the Dominican Republic. I am excited to get back to Samana and to those amazing smiles of the kids at the Advocates of Love orphanage.

But it dawned on me I’ll be travelling on Thursday, April 26 ….. the first night of the NFL Draft. I know it’s not a big deal, but how I do enjoy the pageantry and theatre that is the draft.

Still, when I think about the kids I’ll be see (all #1 picks in Jesus’ heart), it’s so worth it.

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Reignited

For the last several weeks, I’ve been feeling very bummed by my current situation. I am happy to act out of obedience to the Lord and move into full-time mission work. Still, it was my expectation assumption our house would be sold by now, and Lee and I would be settling into our new place in Samaná.

Instead, there’s been a lot of waiting (and waiting and waiting) while I mire in this interim stage in my life that is no longer employed in corporate America but not yet actively involved in non-profit America. I feel I’ve geared up for the big game but God has me riding the bench for now. There’s a whole lot of, “put me in, coach!” going on in my head these last several weeks.

Needless to say, those feelings of curiosity have morphed into frustration, and my need to trust in God has waned. I’ve become impatient and at times found myself lost in little moments where I had to remind myself I am a missionary.

So it was with great joy this morning when I spent 90 minutes on the phone with my new boss (the head of Advocates of Love). He was recapping for me his recent trip to the D.R. (a trip, BTW, on which I would have participated if not for my car accident).

To hear the enthusiasm in his voice about some of the barrier-breaking experiences he had on the trip definitely lifted my spirits. To hear him speak about the wonderful, new possibilities for AOL made my heart pump faster and faster. By the end of the call, I was jacked once again about my new role as Director of the children’s home in Samaná.

I will try to keep this feeling going through the duration God has determined it will take to sell my house. And if I’m excited now, just imagine how I will be feeling once Lee and I are on that plane for good the D.R.

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Framily

Framily

I would not be where I am today if not for the wonderful friends I’ve made as a result of the band Sister Hazel. I refer to them as my music family, and I’ve met these individuals either directly or as a result of my being a music fan.

Lee and I are living in the pool house of our friends Jeff and Lindsey. We met Lindsey back in 2006 at a music event. She and I even jumped out of a plane together one year later. We’re living in their pool house because we’re selling our house in Tampa so that we can transition to mission work in the Dominican Republic. Our introduction to Advocates of Love, the non-profit through which we’ll be working, was through my other friend Jeff whom we met – again – through a music event. We were even introduced to our church in Tampa through a friend we made via our music community.

To me, these people with whom I share my life are more than just friends. They’re family. They’re inner-circle confidants whom I trust with any struggle I may be facing. They are individuals I can call at any hour of the day should I need help. They are people with whom I have traveled for vacations, concerts, and religious retreats. They are my Framily.

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It was great to have one of our framily members stop by this evening as she’s on her way to be with her daughter who is expecting. Lee and I first met Michelle back in 2006, and we’ve shared a wonderful friendship over the years. It still baffles me to think her daughter Chloe, who was eleven years old when we met her, is now married and on the verge of being a mother.

To share time and experiences with those close to you is what life is all about. To see children become adults and to be a resource to them as they continue to mature is a basic version of what discipleship is. I love my framily, and I love how they’ve been there for me every step of the way on my journey. And I love we got to savor that again to tonight.

Whatdya Give?

Whatdya Give?

Sister Hazel has been an integral and bedrock part of Lee’s and my relationship since we met. Lee and I have seen the band countless times since 2005, and our immediate circle of friends is a result of people we met through Sister Hazel.

As we transition into full-time mission work, Lee and I have been drastically downsizing. Although it’s been a pleasure and a blessing to give away so much of our stuff, there is also a need to fundraise in order to cover some of the moving expenses associated with this next chapter in our lives.

So to accomplish this goal, we’ve listed two of our favorite Sister Hazel items for auction via Facebook. I’ve copied the descriptions below, and we have the auction open until Friday, March 16. Unfortunately, you have to have a Facebook account in order to participate in the auction.

If you’re interested in supporting our missionary work directly or sponsoring a child for Advocates of Love, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

We are auctioning *TWO* excellent and unique Sister Hazel items from our collection.

Our first is a framed image of an acoustic guitar on the beach, with lyrics to Sister Hazel’s ‘Sail Away’, and signed by Ken Block.

Our second is an acoustic guitar signed by Drew Copeland and Ken Block.

Bids can be entered in the comments, and this auction will remain open until 10:00 PM PACIFIC time on Friday, March 16. We will ship to anywhere in the continental US.

Please keep us in your prayers and we appreciate your support. Also be sure to share this post with your circle of friends and fellow Hazelnuts. Happy bidding.

 

 

Hooked on Ponics

Hooked on Ponics

I had the pleasure this afternoon of meeting Jaime Guerra from Aquaponics for Communities. Jaime is an expert in aquaponics and he presented to me the various options and setup types that are available in the aquaponics arena. My goal in meeting with him was to establish a relationship so that when the time is right, Jaime can assist us with the implementation of an aquaponics system at the Advocates of Love children’s home in the D.R.

 

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Image of one of Jamie Guerra’s aquaponic systems in the U.S.

 

In summary, aquaponics uses the waste water from a fish tank, typically Tilapia, to provide nutrients for plants (herbs, leafy greens, and other vegetable garden items). The plants are grown with no soil as the root system of the plants is submerged in the nutrient-rich water system. The end result is a sustainable mini-ecosystem that produces both edible fish and greens.

The way aquaponics would fold into our vision for the children’s home in Samaná is varied. There would be reduced food costs as a result of being able to produce meal items on site. We could teach responsibility to the children by assigning them chores related to the cleaning and maintenance of the system. Their potential for learning is expanded by introducing them to new aspects of biology, botany, and engineering. And the community as a whole can be introduced to the concept of sustainability and stewardship.

 

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Visit Aquaponics for Communities on Facebook

 

 

I know we’re many months (if not years) away from realizing the benefits of an on-site aquaponics system at the children’s home, yet today’s meeting was about sowing. God has had me working on my patience for some time now, and today was another exercise in that. Still, I firmly believe He will honor our prayers and intentions and deliver us a wonderful system that will make the lives of the kids and staff at the children’s home so much better. But for now, we simply …

PTW


A word of thanks to my new friend Tami Carr who made this meeting with Jaime possible. Tami has a servant’s heart and a passion for aquaponics, and I am grateful my new boss (Mike Clark) introduced me to Tami. 

First Day on the Job

First Day on the Job

(….sorta)

Upon returning from Georgia, Lee and I headed over to North Pointe Church for an event put on by No More, “a non-profit organization focused on helping orphans and eradicating slavery & poverty & helping the hopeless by becoming the hands & feet of Jesus to make a difference in the world.”

In addition to experiencing their presentations from room to room, Lee and I got to work the Advocates of Love table at the event. It was our first function in the capacity of missionaries for AOL, and it was exciting to be able to represent our organization.

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The best part is we walked away with this amazing painting by Jim McMahel. It was painted by McMahel during the show and put up for auction. We were blessed to win the auction, with the proceeds going to pay for a child’s ability to attend camp. We can’t wait to hang this on the wall of our new place in the D.R.

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Real Talk

Real Talk

In this process that is transitioning to full-time mission work, things got a lot more real today.

It started this afternoon when Lee and I met with our realtor. Referred by my new boss, our realtor Jeff was very nice and we found him to be confident and personable. After we showed him around the house, we sat down to discuss the details of the house, what additional work needs to be done in order to list it, what the right price point is for the house (given various factors), and the expectations Lee and I should have in terms of timelines and processes.

The experience was informative and eye-opening. On some aspects, Lee and I were right on with what we thought the answer would be, and Jeff’s concurrence was reassuring. On other points, however, Lee and I were way off. So it was a bit of a learning experience, and one we can step through with confidence knowing Jeff has our best interests in mind.

A couple of hours later, we fielded a call from my aforementioned new boss and we discussed the missionary agreement the non-profit put together for us, as well as a possible option for living accommodations in the Dominican Republic. It was a constructive and informative conversation, and one that has brought us one step closer to the reality of becoming full-time missionaries.

After it was all said and done, I took a moment to process it all. Selling the house, moving out, finding an interim solution until we can move to Samaná, and figuring out all the logistics and timelines of actually getting to the D.R. For the first time since we thought about making the move into mission work with Advocates of Love, I felt the weight of this new reality bear down on me. For the first time, I had to take a deep breath and deliberately remind myself to trust God.

It’s not hard to trust God. It’s hard to remember to trust God. And for now, that is what I must do: remember to trust in Him. I know this is a process, and I know I cannot determine all the answers myself. Instead, I will pray for continued patience and wisdom, and I will lean on the words of Proverbs 16:9.


In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

– Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)