Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rookie Year of Fantasy Football

I grew up a college football fan, and admittedly didn't have much to do with the NFL.  I might watch the Superbowl every year, primarily for the half-time show and commercials.  That is until I met and married my husband.  You see my husband has been playing fantasy football since you did it with a pad and pencil.  As a 12 year old, the league he played in had to adjust the rules for the loopholes his middle school mind had found to outwit the middle aged men he was playing against.  He scheduled his fantasy football draft into our honeymoon for heaven's sake!  So, in married life, I have at least found an appreciation for the NFL and I have of course had to have a certain reverence for fantasy football.  I have learned all sorts of new vocabulary, like "keeper leagues," "flex players," and "positional value."  Last year I even found myself cheering during NFL games for my husband's fantasy players (it didn't hurt that there was a little money riding on them).  Never did I think that I would find myself with my very own fantasy football team.  Until now...

Last night I (somewhat jokingly) told my husband that I might be willing to have a team this year if the league he is a commissioner for was a team short.  Today while I was at school teaching I received a text message that said, "You are playing fantasy. I will train you tonight.  Don't let me down."  No pressure right?  In his defense he did add a smiley face to the end.  So here I am tonight finding myself in a pile of top 100 lists, mock drafts, and drafting strategies.  Here are my top 10 thoughts going into my first fantasy draft tomorrow night.

1.  I'm stressed out about getting a quarterback.  I know I don't have to pick one in the first round, but I don't want to end up with a really bad one either.  And let's just be honest, I know more names on that list than on any of the others.

2. I refuse to draft Patriots and Steelers.  Why?  Patriots- Have you seen the way their slob of a coach dresses?  Steelers- Last I checked they still have Ben Roethlisberger.  I'm pretty sure it's a disgrace to females everywhere if I pick him or any of his teammates.

3. My two exceptions to #2...Hines Ward (because he was really fun on Dancing with the Stars) and Chad Ochocinco (he's really a Bengal anyway and I have his jersey).

4.  I also refuse to pick any former South Carolina Gamecocks.  I am a Clemson Tiger to the very core of my being.  I have never cheered for a Gamecock and I never will.

5.  It stinks to be a Tight End.  Who are these guys anyway?

6.  I need a kicker with a really cool last name.  I mean listen to some of these...Gostkowski, Janikowski, Longwell, Vinatieri...kickers have the coolest names.

7. I will not draft my kicker or my defense too early.  Otherwise my husband will call me an idiot like he does the other guys he plays fantasy with.

8. I'm going to do my best not to draft a Clemson Tiger just because I want to...but I probably will, I'm just going to try and not draft one too early.  I can't help it, I have a soft spot for my Tigers.

9.  I will keep up with my team.  If I have any plans on getting invited back, I know not to be a slacker that doesn't keep up with my team.  I hear how guys talk about "those guys."

10. I will not get mad or hold grudges against guys who pick the players I want.  I understand that this is part of the drafting process and I will not "be a girl" about it.

So there you go.  Thoughts from a rookie girl playing fantasy football for the first time.  Sundays should be interesting in our house this year.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Summer Reading List

As many of you know, I have spent the last 8 years traveling during the summer. Having now gone into "camp retirement" I feel like I am spending this year rediscovering things I enjoy and love about summer. What are some of those things? Naps, Sno cones, watching movies (both at home and in the theatre), going on vacation, and among many other things...reading.

I love to read. I can't remember a time I have not enjoyed reading (outside of some school assignments and the majority of my first time in grad school). I can remember spending hours in the back of my family's mini-van reading on the way to summer vacation. I was also always the kid who wanted to get any required summer reading done as soon as possible, so I could read all the things that I wanted to instead. Don't get me wrong...I also actually enjoyed some of those reads, like Cold Sassy Tree and Their Eyes Were Watching God, but usually I just wanted to dive into my favorites. Back then those faves included classic literature like Sweet Valley High. My taste evolved into even more sophisticated authors like Danielle Steel and Mary Higgins Clark. I hope you are detecting my sarcasm here. I didn't claim to be a literature elitist, but a lover of books. I would say I still enjoy a mix of good literature with a side of guilty pleasure. I just enjoy books that engage my imagination and that make me want to keep turning the pages. So...now that I have all this time on my hands this summer, what books are going to be on my summer reading list? Well....here they are....

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I actually already read this one and it is fantastic!

Love the One Your With by Emily Giffin (author of Something Borrowed)

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani

Throne of Fire by Rick Riodan

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson

and in keeping with my adolescent interests...

Sweet Valley Confidential: 10 Years Later by Francine Paschal

So, as you can see, I still have somewhat random taste in books, but I have big plans for my summer reading. We'll see what other books make their way on the list before it is all said and done. What are you reading this summer? Is there a book you think I should add to my list?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama...Journey of the Last 8 Months and What's Next

So, it's been a while since I blogged on here. That in part is because the last 8 months have been busy. It's is also in part because there have been things we have explored over the last 8 months that I couldn't really share publicly. And its also because there were times that I didn't really know how else to express "We don't really know anything yet" or "We're just waiting to see what comes next." So to catch up both old and new friends on the last few years and months, here goes...

Aug 2006- I moved to Birmingham from Nashville to be closer to Brad and I took a job as an Event Coordinator with Student Life. We became engaged that year and got married in Aug of 2007.

2007/2008- Brad graduated from Beeson Divinity School while working part time as an Event Director with Student Life. I worked full-time with SL still as and EC. We traveled that summer.

2008/2009- We both worked full time with SL and traveled during the summer. I felt called to pursue teaching and began the process of applications to schools and fulfilling prerequisite requirements.

2009/2010- We knew coming in to this year at SL it would be our last. After 8 summers on the road for both of us, we knew our camp journey was coming to a close. I worked part-time while beginning the 5th Year Master's Program at the University of Montevallo in Elementary Education.

So, in August of 2010, we returned home. We knew our time with Student Life and camp was over after that summer. It was a fantastic team and summer of ministry, and the perfect note to leave on. We were not bitter, we were not frustrated, we were just finished. We felt our journey was complete. We were at peace that God was leading us in another direction, we just weren't sure what that was yet. We knew we would need to be in Birmingham at least until May, as that is when I would graduate. And that was about all we knew. Brad had an opportunity to go to Vietnam with our church in September and when he returned, he began looking for jobs here in Bham.

To be honest, the fall was frustrating in many ways. I really didn't want to think about moving, but Brad was having no luck on the local job front. He felt stuck and I was busy finishing up my last semester of classes before student teaching. In December, we started to really talk about what it looked like to "widen our net" and be open to pursue jobs anywhere. God really turned my heart over those few weeks and I was ready to accept not staying in Birmingham and moving on to somewhere new. January 1st, Brad started to pursue various options and make connections with people to see what opportunities were out there. I started student teaching that month. My experience student teaching has been without a doubt a God appointed thing. I have learned so much from those little 5 & 6 year olds (I plan to blog about this at another time).

A few opportunities came on the table, primarily in various locations in the southeast. We were determined to pursue things until God closed the door. We were open to what He intended to be next. One of the most difficult things during this time was the inability to plan things. We felt like we were having to put off some things we wanted to do and like we had to wait until the last minute to do others. Brad was glad things were moving with some of the jobs, but was frustrated with the day to day boringness of not having a lot to do while I was busy student teaching. Fortunately, a part time/contract work opportunity with Student Life came along that was good to provide us with some income and also gave Brad something to focus on, which was much needed.

During these months, there were times of frustration and just general wondering of when God would let us in on His plan. We had faith, we did not think he had forgotten us, but we also did not feel that we always shared in his time table. It was a testing of patience for sure. But we trusted that in His good and perfect timing we would know. I admit that there was a Sunday back in March before my spring break that I just sat and thought "Okay God, seriously, I'm ready. We're ready. Whatever it is, could you please just let us in on your plan?" Funny enough, it was in that week that Brad talked for the first time about the opportunity that would eventually develop in the the final "open door."

So...what's next? Well, Brad has accepted and is excited about a job as Servant Life director. Servant Life is a non-profit housed in Student Life that sends teenagers on domestic and primarily international missions opportunities. To learn more you can visit www.servantlife.com. Brad is excited about investing in an organization that he has been interested in and passionate about for a while through our involvement with Student Life. So...Sweet Home Alabama it is. After all the ups and downs of the 8 months, God's plan all along was for us to stay here. I am thankful. First for knowing and having some answers, and also that because God had turned my heart to be open to other places, I don't worry that it was my own desire that kept us here. For the first time in many, many years, I feel home. I feel like I can continue to build real community. I feel like for the first time in our married lives, we are really beginning to put down some roots. A few anyway. I find myself being excited about funny things....like finally hanging some things on my wall and adding some of our personality to our home to really make it that...home.

There are still things you can pray about for us. Pray that God would reveal what school he would have me minister in as a teacher next year. Pray that wherever that is, he is already preparing me for the children who will be in my care. Pray that Brad would grow and learn in this new opportunity. Pray that we would seek his wisdom and guidance as we think about what it may look like in the future to begin a family. Pray that we would continue to find people to invest in and that we would build community here in Birmingham.

The last 8 months have been difficult at times, but I am grateful for them. Above all, I know that God is faithful. He is sovereign. And even when it doesn't match my own, His plan and His timing is perfect.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If Camp Were a Marathon and I was a Runner...

So, I don't claim to be a runner, never have, and I probably never will. I do however, have friends (one Whitney Harris in particular) who I have heard talk about what it is like to run a marathon, and I haven't been able to help thinking of how much it sounds like working a summer of camp. Particularly this one. I'll try and explain to help you understand...

The 9 months leading up to the summer are very much like training. You are preparing your body, mind and spirit for what lies ahead in the summer. You are sometimes seeking the counsel of those who "coach" you in that preparation. You tend to be one big mixed up ball of emotions of greater excitement with just a little apprehension mixed in as the days draw closer for you to pack up and leave for 3 months. Training week is like that one last push right before the race begins and suddenly before you even realize it, the first registration day is there and you are off!

Week one you are usually ready to go...after all, this is what you have spent the last 9 months of your life preparing for right? But you are also trying to pace yourself, as you know you still have many weeks ahead of you. For me this summer, about week 3 I started to hit that point where it began to hurt a little. When you think to yourself...oh no...this is not good...especially when I have so much left ahead of me. You have to find your "rhythm" in a way...or "get your camp legs under you." And you keep running...and running...and running. For me, Week 5 I hit the wall. A little early you would think since it was just at halfway through our summer. It was difficult, I was tired, and it was a moment, where I admit that the thought of the finish line was what was keeping me going. And then, we came to week 6 and I think I hit a bit of a the "high" that runners talk about that follows running "through the wall." It's been a great week, one where I feel like I am finally really hitting a stride. I know there will still be moments when it "hurts," when I feel like I have nothing left, but it is remembering why I am am here that keeps me going. That and all those who come along to "cheer me on."

Yes...just like in a race, I have experienced turning that corner when I just don't know if I can go any farther, and then something happens that spurs you on. For me this summer, it was found in a visit from my Dad at Wake Forest, and in unexpected visit with a best friend in Indiana, in a brief hug at a gas station from my mom, in a dinner with a best friend in Texas, in a youth minister's prayer in a meeting, in a pint of chubby hubby ice cream from my SE, in an unexpected nap on reg day, in a moment when a student "gets it," and in moments and times when Brad & I are able to have "date time" to spend with one another and recharge. I am so thankful for each of these moments that have truly spurred me on as I am running this race.

The other good news about the race of camp is that you aren't running it alone. First, I take comfort and find direction in knowing that this is exactly where I am called to be by God. This is what keeps me pushing forth even when it gets difficult. I am also running this race with my husband and 24 other wonderful teammates that I am especially grateful for. It wouldn't be nearly as much fun without them. I also wouldn't be able to do it without them. I am thankful that we have been called to serve alongside each other during this season in life.

Finally, it is bittersweet for me to think about the fact that as this summer closes, so is my journey and "race" of camp. There is the sweetness of the joy you feel when you feel as if you run and you run well. The feeling you have as you strive to serve God in the best way you know how in the place He has you. There is also the bitterness that is felt when it is over. While you know there will be some amount of relief that sweeps over you, it will be sad I think, when the reality hits me that it might be the last race I am running here as God is calling to a new chapter and journey in life.

My hope and prayer is that I would run and finish well. That I would not save anything for myself, but that I would leave it all in the race. So now, as Week 6 is closing, I feel a bit as if I am running the final legs. This is the time that I know that the strength I find is not my own, but it is from my Father who loves me and carries me and gives me joy in the journey. I want to make the most of this time that remains. For now...I'll just keep running.

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider I have made it my own. But one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3: 12-14

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Camp...Part 3

After returning home from camp in 2005, I moved to Nashville to take the job with LifeWay as a Program Specialist for Crosspoint and Centrikid camps. Now this thing called camp was a part of my daily life. Everything seemed to be new...I had a new job, I was living by myself for the first time, I was making new friends, and Brad and I were beginning a new relationship. It was both exciting and scary. It was definitely a new challenge and God was stretching me. I was learning a lot about what went into planning a summer of camp. I was also learning a lot about myself, as it was the first time I was really living on my own as a "grown up."

I had planned to stay in the job at LifeWay for two years, as that was the usual term for my position, but as things became more serious between Brad & I, we talked more and more about me moving to Birmingham, AL so we could live and date in the same city (he was in seminary at Beeson Divinity school at the time). As I considered and prayed about this possibility, I was excited but scared as well. I thought I had these two years "planned out" and I thought that I knew where I was going to live and work. If I moved to Birmingham, all these things would be up in the air again. As I was pondering these things, a coworker and friend reminded me that God had always provided for me. That it may not have always been on my time table, but that I could look back on my life and very clearly see that God had a plan in everything he had done and that He had always taken care of me and my needs. So I made the difficult decision that after I completed my 2006 summer of camp, I would leave Nashville and move to Birmingham.
2006- I had the opportunity this summer to serve alongside a great friend, Derek, who would be the director of the team with me as the assistant director. We began working together in 2003 and we had been friends ever since. This would be our 3rd summer out of the 4 that we worked, to work together. Our team was great and we made many memories as we traveled the country together. It was bittersweet knowing that it would be my last summer with Crosspoint. It was also difficult at times that Brad was leading another team and this was the longest we had been apart since we began dating. In the end, it strengthened our relationship, and it helped that we both fully understood what the other was going through during the summer.

As my summer began to come to a close, I was nervous and scared about what was to come. I wanted to trust in God's faithfulness, but it was hard to be patient to see how His plan would play out. I had been in conversations with someone named Roger about a camp called Student Life, but I had no idea how that would turn out. I didn't even know if they were seriously considering me for the position. I just knew that either way, I had a peace that I was supposed to move to Birmingham, even if that meant I couldn't see the whole picture yet. So, 2006 was the end of my time with Crosspoint. I am so thankful for all the experiences that I had there and the friends I made. I am most definitely a different person because of those 4 years. Maybe I will get to the next four before I leave on Sunday!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Camp...Part 2

I'm not sure how many years of camp I will get through tonight, but last night I left you hanging at the end of my 1st summer of camp in 2003. So here goes...

2004- When I returned home from camp to begin grad school, I admit that I had a bit of a rough time. I moved back home and began one of the most challenging semesters of my life. I was overwhelmed by loneliness and I missed the community I had found at camp. One night, one of my teammates finally explained to me what my problem was...I had the "camp funk" as he put it. Basically the time in which you are in detox from missing the experiences and the people you have lived life with for the last three months. Fortunately, I did make good friends that summer, who spent many nights during the fall on the phone with me "talking me off the ledge" persay in regards to grad school. I suddenly couldn't wait until I would leave again for another summer of camp. I waited not so patiently to find out what team I would be on and who my new teammates would be (and who I would get to spend another summer with).

In May of that year I left again for my second summer of camp on the Crosspoint Green team. It is honestly still one of my favorite summers of camp and one of my favorite teams of people. It is also true that your second summer is the best. You have been around just long enough for people to look up to you as a leader, but you are still "cool enough" to be "one of them." It was a few weeks into this summer that my director pulled me aside and told me that he "needed me to step it up." I admit I was a little taken aback and maybe even slightly offended. Me, ever the overachiever and people pleaser needed to "step it up?" But he was right. He pushed me to push myself and my leadership abilities. He taught me about what it meant to replicate leadership. He helped me to begin to put leadership theories I had learned in college into practice. He also became a great friend. (Here's a bit of hint, he later became more than that!) It really was a wonderful summer of fun new locations and great memories with great people. Again, I had convinced myself that of course THIS summer would be the last. After all, I would be graduating from Grad School and I would definitely have to find a "real job" after that, right? Of course again God had different plans than I did. He used some convincing from a certain director that I could give one more summer and that I should take a step to increase my leadership and apply to be an Assistant Director. So, I did.

2005- I was hired as an Assistant Director for the summer of 2005. I was also paired with my director from the previous year. We spent a lot of time that year talking about camp and how we planned to lead our team. I admit that I found myself worried more than a few times that year that maybe, even as excited as I was, that I may have made the wrong decision to come back for another summer of camp. I had no idea what I was going to do after graduation and that was more than a little stressful. Of course God had a plan for that too. Before I even left for the summer I heard that a position as an intern was opening at LifeWay in the fall with their children's camps. I applied, and a week before I graduated, was offered and accepted the job. Once again, God had shown himself as provider in my life.

As I left that summer I was excited about the new challenges. It was difficult being in leadership for the first time. I didn't understand why suddenly the girls on my team weren't rushing to tell me everything that was going on. I was now "in charge" and that sometimes meant feeling isolated in my leadership. But I worked through those growing pains and the experience continued to stretch me and challenge me. I was able to begin to understand what it meant to pour into and invest in the people who had been placed in my care on my team that summer. I would make another great friend who would later become my roommate and would also be one of my bridesmaids.

I also discovered that I may have more than feelings of friendship for that director who had been in my life. We were both facing times of transition in our lives after camp, but we both admitted that there were feelings present. So, that was a possibility that was awaiting me after camp. This was also the first summer I was leaving that I knew I would be back again the next summer, which was part of my fulfilling my new job at LifeWay. This was a new feeling of security that I had not previously experienced. I was also looking forward to the experiences I would have in my new job, as I would be able to see "the other side" of camp and all the preparation that would go into it. I was excited about moving to Nashville and I felt blessed that this "camp thing" that I loved so much was developing into something that looked a little more like a "real job." But to hear more about that, you'll once again, have to wait until tomorrow. Enough writing for tonight.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Camp...it's a word that has defined my summers for the last 8 years and pretty much my life for the last five. I never would have guessed when I showed up to work Crosspoint in 2003 that 8 years later, I would still be packing up to go to camp in the summer. I figured I would be a "grown up" by now. Funny how God always seems to have different plans. This summer is probably the last. Mainly because God has placed a new calling of teaching on my life that is bringing this camp journey to an end. I've thought a lot lately about the last 8 years of my life, about this journey that I have been on. So, I figured it might be cathartic to share it here. So here goes...

2003...A little background, the winter before I had traveled to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City to be a volunteer. This journey opened my eyes and heart to the desire to travel more than I ever had before. Suddenly, my world was much larger than the state of SC that I had spent most of my life in. In October of my senior year of college I attended a global missions conference and it was there that I distinctly felt God calling me to give over my summer to him. That seemed strange. I was supposed to be a grown up, and get a "real job" so I wondered how me giving my summer to him would affect that plan. But I was open to surrendering that time to him. I heard about Crosspoint from a friend I was in the Sport Management degree program with and it seemed like a perfect fit. So, I turned in my application and references and waited...and waited...until I got a call that February letting me know that LifeWay camps wanted me to come be a Bible Study Leader and gymnastics coach for the summer.

I showed up to training week a day late because of my sister's graduation and I was more than a little overwhelmed when I arrived. Here was this team of people that were so excited I was finally there. Honestly, I was intimidated and I was nervous. But I was also excited all at the same time. By the end of Training Week I had been broken over bitterness and hurt that I had been holding onto from a past relationship. I began to truly understand God's grace in my life. And I had found a friend named MB who let me cry in her hoodie and would eventually stand by me as a bridesmaid in my wedding years later.

That summer I learned a ton and had a multitude of experiences. I learned about the simplicity of faith from the children I spent each day of camp with. I learned more about growing as a woman of faith from my female teammates. I learned that there were good, godly guys out there from the guys on my team. I went to states I had never been to. I taught little girls in gymnastics about self acceptance and I tried to help them understand how much God loved them just the way they were. I was able to pray with students who had accepted Christ as their savior. I felt as if I was exactly where God wanted me to be. Right in the middle of His will for my life. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.

I thought I would be a "one and done" aka a person who works one summer and then never works camp again. I thought that was the only summer I would possibly have to give since I was going to have to find a "real job" when all this fun camp stuff was over. I had no idea the plans God would have for me and how he would intricately weave this thing called camp into my life journey through the years. So, God closed the doors for all those "real jobs" I had been thinking about. And he left open the door to go back and go to Grad school at Clemson University. So...it looked like I might have one more summer after all. And to hear about that story...I guess you'll have to wait until tomorrow.