Final preparation

We are counting down the days until we take off for Italy! We have been planning for this trip for months and the closer it gets the longer the “t0-do” list seems to be getting.

Prayers are appreciated as we get everything pieced together before the trip. The leaders met this morning and three of the four of us are feeling sick. Two of the leaders woke up around 2.30 and couldn’t fall back asleep because their minds were racing with things yet to do.

Please continue to pray for our students as they embark on this trip. I am praying that there will be radical change in their hearts as they prepare for God to work in them and through them.


In a mere 13 days 36 students and 4 adults will board a plane for a week long mission trip to Italy. Planning for the trip began in the summer of 2016, but in all reality a mission trip at the school has been on the prayer list of many for 15+ years. As the school year got underway we began working with the students on the trip to prepare their hearts and minds for what they will experience. One of the things that has been heavy on my heart was to communicate the message that we are not simply going on a one-week trip that is mission minded, rather we are to live lives on mission. With that in mind over the course of the year we set up different days where our students could serve locally with Habitat for Humanity. We wanted to communicate that we have opportunities to serve here, before we have an opportunity to serve over there.

This past Saturday alongside 9 of the students, we worked in the hot Florida sun to help build a house, and I could not be more proud of the students. They worked tirelessly and did anything and everything they could in order to accomplish the task at hand. At one point I was walking through the house moving from one spot to the next when I overheard our ‘host’ on the phone. I could tell he was talking with a different site director and I heard him say, “I’m sorry your crew isn’t very good today. I got blessed with the good ones. My guys are great. They are doing phenomenal work.”

I don’t know whether or not he meant for me to hear it. Regardless, I walked away feeling proud of my students. They were working hard, having fun, and making an impact for the Kingdom. If this past Saturday was a glimpse of what is going to happen in Italy, I cannot wait to see what happens!

A running identity?

It hasn’t been ten years since graduating from college and within those years I have lived in; Germany, Pennsylvania and Florida. Each chapter provided  a variety of challenges, opportunities for growth, and amazing memories. As I take a few moments to reflect on the different places I have lived and the communities I have been a part of there is something that seems to be consistent; everywhere I have been, people around me quickly associate me with running, and running, with me. This realization was made more clear to me when my boss recently told me to, “process this idea on your next long run.” Not even 18 months in this new location and the running association has arrived.

When I first realized this, it caught me by surprise a bit. I don’t deny that I run a lot, and I acknowledge that I have competed in a number of races in recent years. But, I don’t think I ever sought to have running be one of the ways in which people identify me. I don’t envision myself as someone who openly advertises my runs, or my training regimen. (In fact, over the past 18 months I have only done one race which is the lowest number in a calendar year since graduating from college) So, after living in different communities I began to wonder why this running identity seemed to follow me wherever I went, and why it was so quick to be something multiple people picked up on.

Working as a teacher in a high school, I often see students get stuck with labels. Within a group of friends you may have; “the athlete” or “the smarty-pants” or “the movie buff.” People quickly and often get labeled by their peers based upon their interests and habits. Labels is one thing high school and the real world have in common, labels are still given to people after high school. In many of my communities, I have been labeled “the runner.”

The point of this post, and the thought I have been wrestling with is this: People around me may quickly associate me with running – but do they just as quickly associate me with being a disciple of Jesus? Do I talk about running to such an extent that people have no choice but to label me as their friend “the runner”? Do I talk about Jesus to such an extent that people have no choice but to label me as their friend, “a follower of Christ”? I may give off a vibe that I have a running identity. But, do I live the lifestyle that shows Jesus Christ is my identity?