Monday, August 20, 2012

He Touched Me...

"Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. 'Lord,' the man said, 'if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.' Jesus reached out and touched him. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be healed!' And instantly the leprosy disappeared. -Matthew 8:1-3 NLT

I don't know that I've ever really considered just what it meant for Jesus to reach out and touch the leper before. I've heard this story many times. And I think I've always focused on the miracle that Jesus performed - that the man was healed. But not until yesterday as we were studying these verses in Sunday School did I ever stop to think about that short sentence before Jesus spoke the healing words.

"Jesus reached out and touched him."

Wow. Have you ever researched leprosy? I hadn't really...until yesterday. I had heard stories and even have a sister who visited some leper colonies when she was doing mission work in China. But I haven't, and don't know that I ever will fully understand the extent of it. It's not pretty. It's not comfortable. It's painful. And it's certainly not something I really want to encounter. But Jesus did. He could have simply spoken the words, "Be healed." He could have prayed over the man and sent him on his way. But Jesus reached out and touched the man with leprosy. This was unheard of in that time, and probably even today with those who still suffer from this horrible condition. It was/is highly contagious, and to go near someone who has it is risky business. But to touch that's really putting yourself at risk. Not to mention the sight and smell that may have been present because of the skin condition. (Think rotting unbearable as that sounds...) So, needless to say, this man had probably not been touched by anyone in his years as a leper. I wonder what gave him the courage to approach Jesus? I wonder what allowed him to come so close? And I wonder what his heart was feeling as he simply said with complete faith, "If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean!" There is so much to see here. He didn't ask Jesus if He was willing. He made a statement. He believed. He had faith. And He knew. I can only imagine the freedom he felt as he walked away knowing He had been healed, both physically and spiritually. The powerful, overwhelming freedom he must have experienced.

And now I think about myself. About the "spots" I carry around every day. Jesus died on the cross to cleanse those spots. Because of Him, I can come, every day, every moment, humbled and amazed at His willingness to heal...if I simply confess and ask. What a powerful thought our Sunday School teacher brought when she challenged us to think about our own "spots." To think about the way Christ takes those away as He touches us, and to consider others around us who are hurting and desperately trying to cover up their spots. We need the touch of Christ, and others who don't know Him need us to reach out and touch them as we share His love and truth.

What freedom. What peace. What overwhelming hope and joy I have. To know that Jesus was willing to reach out...and touch me. A sinner. A human. An imperfect person He chose to call His child when I asked Him to be a part of my life twenty one years ago. And now I am called to be His touch to others. I know I can't be the one to heal or save someone. But I can lead them to the One who will.

Kind words. An encouragement note. A ride for someone who doesn't have a car. Doing the dishes. Listening ears. A prayer. Childcare. Teaching. And so many other things...What will your "touch" look like today?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another late post from the drafts folder - it's catch up time! :)

Yikes! I have been seriously lacking in the blog posts this summer, and that is one thing I was looking forward to most with school being out! I have so many things I want to post about but either don't make time, can't figure out how to put them into words yet, or just don't get motivated. But I decided tonight I need to just write something and get going!'s something I've been up to the past few months that has really been awesome to me - running!! :)

When I started again in March, I really just wanted to do it for fun, and to get some more exercise in. I go to Curves and really enjoy that, but wanted to mix things up a little bit too. Then I decided to try my first race (in ten years!) in April. I wrote about that race here. It was awesome to be able to support something I love - missions - AND run! :) I kept running and finally in May, with a little bonus paycheck I earned from being a new teacher mentor this school year, I decided to buy just the thing I'd been wanting - my first for real pair of running shoes, ever! And - that's kind of where my journey continued! Here are some pictures to share from my new hobby of a few months -

Brooks Pureflow Minimalist Shoes - expensive but an exciting investment!

Miles 4 Missions - My first 5K race since starting to run again! :) April 21, 2012. 

Staff Wellness 5K Run - May 5, 2012

Soles 4 Souls - 5K Race to support Harmony Baptist Belize Mission Team - June 2, 2012

And - this was one of the biggest deals ever for me - the Marine Volkslauf 10K team run!!
June 16, 2012
This race is a team effort involving running a 10K - going through woods, up and down rugged terrain, crossing a river twice, and going through a mud pit. I wasn't originally brave enough to sign up, though I regretted it later. Then, the night before the race, a co-worker from school called and told me she wouldn't be able to run and asked me to fill in. I was so excited! The week before that I'd run 5 miles without walking for the first time in my life, so I finally felt confident knowing I could finish this race! A lot of people sign up for this one, knowing they will only run part and walk the rest, and knowing it's a team effort, so they just want to have fun and say they finished. I was so proud to finish, walking only twice - once on the huge hill near the beginning and once on a big, gradual hill in the middle. I'd say I ran about 5 miles of the race total and walked around 1 mile. I had an awesome time with the ladies and a couple of co-workers' sons on my team, and we finished in 1 hour and 36ish minutes! :) 

Here are the two awesome ladies from work I ran with in our girls' picture! The two boys did an awesome job too!

Crossing the river for the second time at the finish - you can see our bright orange shirts coming across! :)

And, finally - after running the 10K team race, I thought it was time for me to try an individual one! I'd still never run more than 5 miles or a little over that on my own, but really felt like I could do it. So - I signed up for my first individual 10K ever on July 4, 2012. My goals were to finish without walking, hopefully not be last, and to finish in 1 hr and 15 minutes or less. And....I did it!
I didn't walk at all, I wasn't last, and I finished in 1:08!! :) It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but it was so awesome to cross that finish line!

Here I am coming in to the finish. A co-worker was awesome enough to stay and cheer me on and take the picture. In the back, you can see her son, a high schooler who loves to run and is fantastic at speed and distance! She sent him back to cheer me on for the last 0.3 miles, and it was so encouraging to have him running next to me saying, "You can do it. Not too far now. Almost there!" What a great young man...she is a wonderful mother, and it shows through his attitude and actions!

So friends - it's been an awesome few months of running too. I'm sad to say I've kind of neglected it for the month of July, but I'm ready to get going again! In fact, I'm signed up to run a 5K next Saturday and am so excited because, again, it is to support a ministry! There is a group called Team 413 with a local chapter here, and they are sponsoring the event. The national organization has decided to host its first ever 1/2 marathon and short family run event in April of 2013, and...........I've decided to sign up! I'm SO excited, but a little nervous too! I had the kind of (not so) secret goal of running a half in the Spring sometime, and had hoped not to train on my own, but was willing to if I had to. And then this event came up! I was excited that 1)The event will benefit an awesome ministry, 2)There is a group training locally to go, and 3)It is in the time frame I'd wanted to try for. God is good! I'm praying I'll be able to make the time, effort, and perseverance to train over the next few months! The other thing I'm nervous about is cost. Longer races usually cost a lot, starting at $75 and going up. I hope I will be able to afford this because it is the opportunity of a lifetime! We'll see! :) Their motto is "Get there and share!" and I think it is awesome to combine the two things I am passionate about - running, and sharing the Gospel! 

And - I guess that's it for my running news right now. It's been so much fun to pursue this new hobby and to remember how much I loved it in high school. It's really helped me to develop a new confidence in myself, and I've missed it over the past month. Can't wait to get started again in the upcoming week! 

I know not everyone is a runner, and not everyone wants to be - but I guess my biggest encouragement to you is to find something YOU are passionate about - a talent YOU have been blessed with...and use it to enjoy yourself and glorify the One who created you! He works through all things for His purpose! :) 

The Queen State

I totally wrote this post almost a month ago...and I definitely intended to post it from the airport, but alas, time got the best of me, and somehow it went into the drafts folder. I've been horrible about posting this summer...and now it's time to catch up! :) So - here's a post about an awesome opportunity I had in July -

I don't think I've ever blogged from an airport before! I just wanted to give a big hello from the Charlotte, NC Airport (and thank them for the free wifi access that a lot of places don't have these days!)

So - you might be wondering just what I'm doing in the Queen State...

Let me tell you - my drum girl heart is FULL and overflowing right now! I'll share a few pictures that might explain.

For the past week, I've been in Charlotte, North Carolina participating in training for the World Music Drumming curriculum. It has been a dream of mine for so long, yet something I never thought would happen. I couldn't do it financially on my own, so the flyer just went in the trash year after year. Then this year, another teacher who will be moving to the new sixth grade center in the new school year found a way to make it happen. Through some special grant funding, the district supported us and sent us all the way to North Carolina for a week together! I've had some of the drums (I wrote a grant to get them!) and the curriculum book for two years now. And I got to see Will Schmid, the amazing music educator who first created and implemented the curriculum at our MMEA conference two years it was a dream come true to spend a whole week learning how to use and implement the resources I have...and to be ready to take that back to my kids! 

So - as you can see from the pictures, my drum girl heart is full...and my teacher heart is ready to engage my students in some fun and awesome learning experiences in the new year! What a blessing to go and spend time learning with other amazing colleagues and educators! I'll never forget it! :)