Monday, June 28, 2010

LTIA Part 1...Travel and Training

The SPG's have returned from DC and with it a brain full of information that we must now apply unto wisdom. It's easy to come back with facts and things to know, but only acting upon them do we really gain wisdom and understanding.

Psalm 90:12 - "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

LTIA, short for the Leadership Training Institute of America, was a week cram packed with information and so rather than make one huge post with every single day included in it I'll instead opt for a series of posts of the events of the week, as well as intermittent posts on things that we learned throughout the week, which was A LOT.

LTIA was instituted in 1996, by Dr. Patrick Briney as an answer in training up young adults to address the problems that plague our current culture and competing world views through biblical principles and critical thinking, which is just a summary, because it's really brings so much more to a persons/students overall contribution to society (at least it can if they put the principles they have learned into practice).

The SPG's left SeaTac at midnight, yeah you read that right, midnight. But honestly had we not chosen that time, and chosen to leave around 6 or 7 am, we never would have made it to the opening of lectures of LTIA and then poor Doug would have been stuck at DCA waiting for us. So while it wasn't ideal, it was far better than the alternative because if you know anything about the SPG's, or myself for that matter, punctuality is paramount. I'm rarely late for an event and for me the mere thought of being late makes me anxious. So good on the executive decision made on that matter, courtesy of our fearless leader.

We arrived in DC zonked from the long flight even though we didn't have the longest one, that belongs to the crew from Alaska. We met Doug & Ken, staff members for LTIA, and 3 sisters that came from Chicago, Elizabeth, Anna & Grace. Their family are missionaries to the inner city of Chicago. Great bunch of girls.

Over whelmed and underfed we made our way to Baja Fresh (some others went to Subway) for lunch with Bro. Briney and some new people we had yet to meet. In the end I think it turned out to be Jeremy & John that came. Finally with a "little" rest under our belts we made our way up to the class room for some initial training before the week started.

We learned about the War of Ideas and how ideas are formed. We talked about how to use critical thinkking skills and our expectations for the week. Everyones was different. Some wanted to have fun, which we had in spades, myself & Paul wanted to work on our appologetics skills, but most everyone wanted to know how they could get more involved with their community and hone in on their leadership skills with political activity.

After the lecture we had fellowship time, which revolved around us playing a game called 'Never Have I Ever'. The premise of the game is for one person to stand in the middle of a circle and say one thing that they have never done, then all those people that have done that activity have to switch seats, while the person in the middle tries to sit in an empty seat leaving another person in the middle. Think musical chairs on steroids. Finally though it had to come to and end and that was decided when the same question was asked for a 3rd time. Wanna take a stab at what it was? "Never have I ever gone sky diving." Go figure.

We then met with our small groups. Mine consisted of Anna, Jennell and Joyka and our small group leader was Mrs. McHenry. She let us know what the expectations of LTIA were and asked us what we expected from her. I expected that she woul help me push myself into thinking more critically, which she did. Each night she brought out a devotional thought through someones testimony or through talking about the events of the day. Each night was different.

Our checklist of requirements was extreme too, although for better or worse I reverted back to my days in bootcamp in order to compartmentalize what I needed to do. I was there with a group, but I was also there to let the Lord work in my life and to that end I was on my own, for no two people have the same walk with the Lord. Here was our list. . .

-Keep a daily journal
-Clean bed
-Maintain a professional appearance
-Be punctual
-Good handshake
-Keep good eye contact
-Participate in all activities with a good attitude
-Speak up & Speak clearly
-Talk to everyone at LTIA (yeah that one was hard;))
-Encourage speakers by asking questions
-Talk to guest speakers
-Send thank-you notes
-Write a letter to a parent or friend
-Share slavation testimony
-Keep a notebook of lectures
-Stay with group on tours
-No guy-girl paring up

And for Honors there was. . .

-Memorize six verses
-Read an approved article and write a 1/2 page summary on it
-Complete a camera interview

Obviously they weren't hard tasks, but in a week it's easy to loose track and focus of priorities. I tried to pick the verses I memoriezed based on the activities for the day. How was I able to memorize 6 verses in a week? With the Lords help of course because it wasn't because I got a lot of rest. That topic is for another post.

I laid my head down on the pillow and decided that I'd be kind to myself and re-memorize a verse I was familiar with 2 Timothy 3:16-17. My normal memorizing style is to write and the re-write it all out, but this was not Bible Institute and I did not have a month to do it in. LTIA was off and running I just wantedd to be ready to the task.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A wedded weekend

Here was the alter of my church this weekend. Not your typical alter I know, however, it's with good reason that decorative adjustments were made. This Saturday marked the wedding of two former SPG's Chris & Anna.

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since Dave & Amber's wedding, but it has and with the end of that year the commencement of a new marriage took place. There were a few elements to it that were not traditional of most weddings, but it just spoke to the personalities of the couple and it all worked wonderfully. Sigh, it was a lovely afternoon.

The colors: Champange & Persimmon
This was a new element that I had not seen in a ceremony berfore. Rather than light a unity candle the couple braided a 3 fold cord. The scriptures that Pastor Sargent read from were in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12,"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." And so with such a scripture it was fitting that this should be the sybol that they used to signify their unity.

Finally after many years of knowing each other it was all sealed with a kiss. Look at the flower girls though. Ha ha ha, she looks a little confused.
Also there was not a cake to be found for the couple had pie. Chris had always wanted a wedding pie, vice cake, and well...he got it. Obviously I couldn't have any, but look at how cute this idea worked out.
Shadows waiting on the get away car.

Like I said it was a lovely afternoon. Sunny and 75 degrees, not typical for this time of year, but great for a wedded weekend.

Oh and guess who caught the bouquet. . . that's right. . . yours truly. Before I start getting more jokes about how many people I had to pummel & drop kick in order to get it let me just say that is not my style. Honestly, I dread this tradition, and mark my words I won't be performing it at my wedding, but in the spirit of the day I participate. At least all the ladies standing around were age appropriate. There's nothing worse than being the only adult in a sea of children. So here is how I work my game. If the flowers come in my direction I'll reach my hand up into the air, but I won't dive. so if I get it I get it. So Anna tossed her flowers, they sailed in the air and really down into my hands they fell. This makes #2 for me, but I didn't dry them like I did the last ones. Simply because I don't have enough room. But aren't the pretty.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Page & an Answer

I have a new page on my blog listed as PR. What does PR stand for? Prayer Requests.

On this page I'll be keeping a list of prayer requests I have and answers that come my way. I don't plan on post every request I have, but the ones that I think of I'll post for others to know what I'm praying about and if you feel so inclined feel free to take one up for yourself.

So I've already received one answer. It is in regards to LTIA.

Anyone, anywhere, that has any sort of food allergy knows that traveling is not always fun. You are constantly on your toes trying to make sure that you either pack what you need, have the extra money to go to the store, and as always diligently scouring for restaurants that may be in the area that you are going to & perusing their menus to make sure that you can find something adequate. I am a person that loves to travel and I happily blame my mom for taking me to Pennsylvania when I was around 6 months old, my first, and not my last, airplane trip. However, with these new challenges it always makes traveling a little more stressful, and expensive. The stress can compound itself especially when attending a conference, like I will be doing in just a little over a week. Part of that stress is, and I'm sure weve all been there at one time or another, is due to the fact that I don't like to make a scene or bring undue attention to myself. Whether it's walking around on crutches because of an injury, falling down the stairs from the choir because you failed to pick up your feet (say what!?), or your 12 and you've just gotten your braces. No one like to be different and stand out in such an obvious way.

Crazy as it may sound I intially didn't have any plans to say anything about my need to be gluten free, and simply work on trusting the Lord to make sure that I would be OK. However, Friday night Tim (our SPG leader) asked me if I had said anything to the staff at LTIA about the food that would be there, and after I said no he advised me that I should. And he was right I know, I mean it's always a big deal and better to say something now then to wait until the last minute and to really make it an uneccessary drama for the week. I mean I'm already hording dramamine because of my motion sickness, what's one more drama? But seriously he was right.

So Saturday morning I set to work on an email to Bro. Briney to see what I could work out. I had already planned on bringing some homemade GF muffins or scones with me, because we'll be traveling during breakfast time, but I hadn't thought much beyond that. Well he passed my email onto the staff and a mere 72 hours later I now have something worked out, and honestly don't know why I've ever thought of doing something like this before. HELLO . . . Duh . . . just send my non parishable items ahead of me!!! This could potentially cut down on uneccessary grocery bills and bagage when I travel. Both of which will be a welcome relief to my budget and wallet. It is also a good thing that I did say something because after getting a low down on the food vendors that will be supplying the food it would litterally be a Celiac nightmare. Chinese, Pizza, Italian, Sandwiches just to name a few of the items. Oi, that could go very badly for my small intestine and I would end up being bed ridden for potentially the whole week, which is not why I'm going to LTIA. However, a wonderful staff member Mary replied to my request and here was the email that I received tonight . . .

"I will make sure that we have fruit, veggies, lunch meat, and salad for her at all times. It would be great if she could bring her own bread. I can definitely give her a designated shelf in the fridge to store anything she wants to bring with her as well. I don’t think that most of our restaurant vendors provide much in the area of gluten-free options, but I will certainly ask all of them."

That will be such a huge blessing and I'm at a lot more ease now that I have a better outlook on the whole issue. God is so good to care about even the little things and help me work out all the details. Yes, God does care about even the "little" things that affect our lives. He's not so consumed with what we envision as the BIG things in this world as to not pay attention to the things that affect His children.

So if you think about it when you arrive on my page feel free to take a look at what new requests are up. You never know how the Lord will be working. That's the exciting part.

One last thing . . . I just received an email from one of the other staff members that told me to hang on to my recept and give it the staff when I arrive. Very nice indeed!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Silly Saturday

A while back I was going to start a weekly posting called silly Saturday. The notion spawned on one Saturday when I was sitting around Kali's house with her and we were finding some silly videos on YouTube. Well I've been grossly neglectful of that one so I'm starting anew. I wish I could take credit for finding this video, but I can't. My Dad sent it to me. It's a little weird and a lot funny. It definitely put a smile on my face. Dogs are so smart, aren't they!

Setbacks & Promises . . . A post I've delyed in writing

Remember in a past post when I wrote about my computer dying and in the same week then my car started having problems? Well a couple weeks ago, as I was having my car washed at a fundraiser for the local High School it sat in idle and then refused to start again. I sat in my car while 4 teenagers pushed it in to an empty parking spot and called my roommate to come & get me, my mechanic to see if he was open (thankfully he was) and a tow-truck to come and get it. This was not the weekend that I planned in my minds eye.

Naturally, once the car was at the garage it started right up. If you've ever had car problems you know how frustrating this can be. It can make a person feel like they're going crazy. But I know my car and my mechanic has stopped questioning my intuition when things go wrong with it. My mechanic tried all weekend & even into Tuesday to try and get my car to mimic the problem and checked the wires all to no avail. He came up with the same conclusion that I was pondering. . . it's the starter. Not as expensive as a new clutch or transmission, but expensive enough that I know I don't have the cash on me to take care of it and needing my car that only left on option. An option that was frustrating and disheartening to acknowledge because it meant a setback in my goal and progress that I had been making in my financial goals. I may not have added anything to it on my recent shopping trip but my car was another story. With one fail swipe, my hard work was instantly dissolved.

The other setback that I have is in regards to the choice I made to set school aside for now. That choice came back in the winter. And even though finishing my BA is a goal I have for myself, I need time to re-evaluate the time that I can give to it. Full-time work, and Full-time school, and attending to the responsibilities of my ministries all got to overwhelming. So I chose to follow after the things in my life that I know will edify my spirit, and not my ego. However, with that choice came the responsibility that I have to repay what I did not finish. It's not the whole amount, but it's still quite a chunk and I can't run from it, I can't bury my head in the sand and pretend that it won't go away, because doing that would have even worse consequences.

I've been bumming pretty hard though and feeling discouraged over these recent events. One step forward two steps back kinda thing. Which is why I've been largely absent from here. The PRIDE, ouch...yes the sin of pride crept into my heart and made me want to cloister myself away, from my friends and my blog, and pretend like it would all be OK. But writing is cathartic for me, and isolating myself from my friends never turns out well either, and in order to get over that hump and let that healing begin I had to finally suck it up and just say something. Because if I didn't I would probably end up giving up all together. So I've removed my ticker for now, until I get to place where I know what's what. I will still be blogging through this new endeavor though the ticker will just be gone for now.

However, through all of this upheaval I keep remembering the words that a good friend has given me recently. Actually it was more the encouragement in her directing me to the Bible and God actually giving me the council from Malachi 3:10,11 "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts." The promise is not that discouraging times won't come, but that so long as I remain faithful in my giving that the Lord promises to keep the "devourer" away from me. So while things may seem discouraging now, my hope is in the Lord. So really it's just mind over matter, knowledge over feelings, but I am only human. There really is no peace like the Lord doles out. It's nice to have something in spades, because the cash just ain't flowing freely these days.

Also check out 'Singleness of Heart' at Grace & Honor because once again Jackie article and my life events seem to be running on a parallel course, like the Lord knows something I don't. Actually, He knows everything I don't.

Lastly, I don't usually post prayer requests, but for those of you that do pray, please pray for my car. Not long after I got it back the check engine light came on and when I went to Auto Zone for a free diagnostic check it came back saying that my EGR valve was starting to go bad as well. What can I say when it rains it pours. The part's not to expensive and I definitely want/need to get it fixed before my trip to the Oregon coast in July, but who knows what the labor costs for replacement will be.

Drive safely ya'll.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shopping & Saving

LTIA is right around the corner in 2 in a half weeks time the SPG's will be in D.C. It's been such a long time in coming (plans started before we even had plans for the Sweethearts Banquet nailed down). However, as with any trip there are requirements that we must adhere to. One such requirement involves maintaining an adequate dress code. Now this would not be so much of an issue if the conference were say, in mmmm . . . Alaska. We have the clothing for that. But we're not really equipt for 90+ degrees and the 100% humidity that comes with the weather in D.C. Yes, the heat is suffocating. Not to mention finding adequate shoes that will allow for a long days walk around the monuments. Back when I lived in the Beltway, I walked from the National Mall all the way down to Georgetown in flip flops. My feet throbbed for the next 2 days not to mention the severe need for a pedicure that followed. I'm NOT doing that again. In other words shopping must be done, but that all seems counter intuitive my future financial goal, right? Well . . . not when coupons are involved!

It all started back in April when I actually did have the money to get a few new outfits and I bought a couple dress suits at JCPenny, which earned me $30 in JCPenny bucks, and my purchase at The Dress Barn earned me another book of coupons for there. The caviat was though that I had to use them by May 31st, which is Memorial Day, which also means Memorial Day sales!!! I really didn't have any intention to shop inititally, but I also didn't want "free money" to go to waste. I'll admit it, I'm becoming somewhat of a coupon hound. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a coupon clipper just to buy junk I won't use or eat, because my diet doesn't allow for most of the stuff that coupons can buy, but when I find ones that I can use I DO and it's fun:) But more about the groceries later.

First stop JCPenny, the mission . . . find appropriate walking shoes that are dressy at the same time. This has been an arduous task at best. But I found a pair that I thought was decent and they had padded soles, but not the size I needed, the size that I needed was to be found about an hour away at the Alderwood Mall a.k.a. shoppers heaven. Knowing that I also had a gift card to use at the Williams & Sonoma store at Alderwood, a birthday gift from my girls, I said to hold them and that I would be there, and who knows they also haad a bigger selection so I may find something I like better. Well I did and short of wearing them out on visitation on Thursday to break them in I think that they'll work. Initial cost of shoes $34.95 - $30 in coupons = $4.95 + tax. So basically $30 shoes for around $5. SWEET!!!

Second stop Christopher & Banks, the mission . . . see if I could find a blue sweater like the red & black ones that 2 of my friends bought on Saturday. They were having great sales. And additional 50 - 70% off already marked down appearal. Well I found the sweater but because they didn't have it in my size I had to order it, but because I ordered it from the store I got the additional 50% off off of the alreday marked down sweater!

Stop 3 The Dress Barn, no real mission, but I did want to see if I could utilize my coupons for something, if not no biggie. Well I did find something a dressy turquoise sweater and a black & white skirt. 20% off on the skirt. Oh, and wait, what do I find in my purse my Dress Barn punch card that gives me another $25 off on my total purchase. So a pretty nice outfit for just $25 dollars.

Stop 4 Lane Bryant, I won't mention the unmentionables, but with the sale that they were having and my coupon and with an additional percentage off that the sales girl gave me at the counter I saved $153 off of what my total would have been and ended up paying less than 3 of the items would have cost at their full retain price. Trust me when I say I NEEDED these items in particular, but because they are good quality I won't need anymore for a little while to come.

As for the groceries I mentioned, this one is always fun. For such a small town I live in we have 3 grocery stores, not including the Commisary on the Naval Base. I don't include that one though because most people can't shop there. However, I choose to shop at Safeway, for my non-GF items because I can wrack up points on my Safeway card that will benefit me at the gas pump. I can also add coupons straight to that card without having to clip anything, and that's always nice. It's always fun swiping the card and seeing the minus signs below the items and the total rapidly decrease. I saved 26% off of my grocery bill in coupons this month. I shop monthly for most things except vegetables & fruit because I get paid monthly and I got .10 cents off on my gas purchase as well. Now if I ould only get my hands on coupons for GF food too. Think of the fun I could have then!

So yes I did some shopping, but if I had not have had the coupons or gotten such great deals I wouldn't have done any. Oh and the money that I did spend did not add to my credit card. So there you have it, yes some shopping but ooohhh what GREAT savings I had! And that was a lot of fun. Plus I got my long sought after shoes YAY!!!


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