Monday, August 13, 2018

Thankful =)

So many good things (aka "God things") going on personally & in the ministry! ...loving life because of Jesus Christ =)


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Monday, August 6, 2018

HOMEOWNERSHIP... I'M LOVING IT!

Whether it's mowing the yard, paying the electric bill, replacing an old toilet, placing charcoal throughout to absorb the old musty smells, pulling up 25 year old carpet, treating for termites, setting up temporary usable areas, still unpacking boxes, making the monthly mortgage payment, strategizing two year's worth of renovations, figuring out where to park vehicles, planning to convert the garage into a workshop / gym / home office / laundry room, daydreaming about a place for people to visit AND a treehouse AND a zipline AND a fireman pool AND an indoor slide from the 2nd floor AND a place to play dodgeball AND an endless amount of ideas, seeking God & others for wisdom, looking on Pinterest for cool cost saving DIY ideas, receiving & collecting free used materials from family & friends, watching fixer upper shows, downloading helpful apps, reading home improvement articles, having a humble budget that forces creativity - resourcefulness - ingenuity - and faith driven prayers, having to ride the brakes on my immediate ambitions to give room for God to supernaturally work in His ways & His timing, and countless other thoughts, dreams, desires, and repair needs.... I'M THANKFUL, GRATEFUL, BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE, AND THOROUGHLY LOVING EVERY ASPECT OF BEING A STUART OF A HOME & PIECE OF LAND!! It could all be wiped out by a fire, tornado, or hurricane in under a minute, but none of that can extinguish the joy I authentically have on this day, during this hour, and in this moment. Nothing can take away the experience of the present-tense. The house doesn't own me. God owns me. I get to be a temporary caretaker of this house and this piece of land for however long or short it is, and 3 months into it, it is surprisingly one of the greatest blessings and joys I've ever experienced. I knew I would like it... I never knew I would love it this much! Had to share =)

The attached video was made for my homeowner's insurance a few weeks after purchasing the house. I had to leave shortly afterwards to run our summer camps in GA & TN so the renovations and work projects had to be paused (that's the hardest part when you're eager to make progress!).

Now I'm back home looking forward to splitting time between my fulltime job, my life responsibilities, my daily disciplines, and my house projects.

A FAVORITE VERSE...
- "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." - 1 Timothy 6:17

(I love that it's important to God that we experience His joy & His provisions that foster enjoyment as we journey through life. Any and every gift from God has the potential for personal enjoyment as long as our hope is in the Giver and not in the gift. The great challenge for all of us is to not put the gift above the Giver, and not to seek the Giver with the pretense to get the gifts.)

MUCH THANKS...
I can't thank the people involved in this purchase enough for the role they played! My heart overflows with eternal gratitude!

*Note: I keep Laurie's cats here. She lives with my parents, but her cats stay here with the dogs (AKA: The GTD Zoo haha!).

Friday, August 3, 2018

WE HAVE BEGUN UPLOADING THE FCD PICS =)

It has been a little more than a week since our fUntastic Adventure Trip with the Family Center on Deafness, and a few hundred pictures have been uploaded to our online photo album. Click the link below to relive some of the excitement!!

(More pics to come!)

https://goingthedistance.smugmug.com/2018-1/2018-Adv-Trip---FCD-HS-Students

Sunday, July 29, 2018

HOME!

One of the best parts of being involved in this ministry is getting to meet so many incredible and high caliber people! We wish we could visit all of them at the end of each summer, but this year we were blessed to spend time with 3 dear friends and supporters of GTD. One family (the amazing Starner's) we got to visit a few weeks ago between events. The other 2 families we got to visit during our drive home over the past couple of days.

Thank you Josh & Tina (Knoxville, TN) and Russ & April (Tiger, GA) for your loving hospitality, friendship, quality time, rearranging your schedules, delicious meals, open doors, and EVEN GOING ABOVE & BEYOND TO ALLOW THE GTD DOGS INTO YOUR HOMES!!! You made the end of our summer just as sweet and special as the main parts of our summer! We are touched and blessed to call you friends, and to have you on the GTD team! We love you!! God bless you!

We made it back to Florida on Saturday night around 11pm. It was an impactful summer of ministry... glory to God!! =)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

FCD ADVENTURE TRIP FINISHES STRONG! THANK YOU DONORS, VOLUNTEERS, LEADERS, STAFF, & DOGS!!

Our annual Adventure Trip with the Family Center on Deafness (FCD) got off to a stormy start (literally!), but finished strong with sunshiny weather, unforgettable adventures, and lifelong memories. Our profound thanks to our donors, volunteers, leaders, and staff along with the FCD staff & volunteers for impacting lives by serving others with your time, talents, and treasures. Ministry is a team sport. We can only win when we play as a team. And we honor each player on the team for the vital role they play in turning vacant time into eternal impact... using hard work and strategic planning to transform open space on a calendar into moments with unending value. And most importantly we praise God for fueling and enabling every aspect. We are profoundly thankful!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

THE HIGH LIFE!

Students and leaders from The Family Center on Deafness scaled one of our favorite slabs in the Cherokee National Forest of east TN. It was a great day of rock climbing & rappelling!!

A PERFECT DAY FOR A LIQUID ADVENTURE!

From a stormy Sunday to sunshiny Monday, the FCD students and leaders conquered bridge & cliff jumps along with the mighty Baby Falls yesterday. Students pushed themselves to overcome fears and establish new levels. Smiles and laughter was the norm throughout the day... It was perfect!

(FCD = The Family Center on Deafness)

Monday, July 23, 2018

ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT GENTLY DOWN THE STORM!

Rain or shine FCD was kicking bootay whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River yesterday!! Cold, but so much fun!!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

FCD HAS ARRIVED!!!

The crew from The Family Center On Deafness (FCD) arrived safe & sound last night!! The fun has already begun!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

EVER WONDER???

Ever wonder what we do between trips?

Sometimes we go recon new activity destinations within a 3-hour vicinity of our campsite.

Sometimes we do what we are doing now...
- laundry
- clean & prep for out next group
- make improvements and tend to any equipment maintenance issues (this week we are waterproofing our tent rainflies... have to do this every couple of years /// cleaning & organizing out vehicles /// cleaning & organizing the trailer /// adding solar lights to the kitchen area & showers)
- daily disciplines (working out, eating healthy, hydrating, great daily devotionals, and getting good sleep)
- checking out local things (we just discovered a warehouse supply store for farming equipment / rural living called "Rural King"... it's awesome!!)

Can't wait for our next group to arrive on Saturday!!! It's our 14-ish year of Adventure Trips with The Family Center on Deafness (FCD)!!! What a great tradition that we always look forward to!!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

GREAT VOLUNTEERS ARE GAME CHANGERS!

We can't thank our SLAMMED volunteers enough for donating their time, talents, and treasure (they paid their own way to be involved!) to serve others and lighten our workload immensely!!! Having thoughtful, loving, fun, positive, self-sacrificing, capable, self-starting, Godly team players volunteer for 5 days is a game changer in this ministry! Summer is a marathon of labor intensive camp after camp, and these great people make it possible for us to "go the distance". They are our ATP (Answers To Prayer)!! God bless you guys! We already miss you =)

SLAMMED PICS UPLOADED!

Nearly 1000 pictures from our annual SLAMMED Adventure Trip have been uploaded to the GTD online photo album. Click this link to relive the moments! Download all the pics for free =)

SLAMMED PHOTO ALBUM LINK

Monday, July 16, 2018

CAME AS STRANGERS. LEFT AS FAMILY!

How good was this year's 23rd Annual GTD SLAMMED Adventure Trip?

Thirty-five individuals - many of them meeting for the first time - spent 5 days together building camp, working hard, jumping into water from cliffs & bridges, sliding over waterfalls, climbing rocks, rappelling down mountains, rafting whitewater, playing volleyball & camp games, sleeping in tents, singing during van rides, talking with each other, praying & seeking God daily, and so many other things.

Mind you that they did all this for 5 days with almost no access to cell phone or internet coverage.

The big question is, "How did they do?"

They thrived! They grew. They bonded. They discovered. They stretched to new levels. They created new lifelong memories. They made new lifelong friends. They laughed a lot. They overcame. They were refreshed. They were renewed. In the words of one participant, "When we came we didn't know anyone, but we are leaving as a family."

That's not to say that there weren't life threatening situations, flat tires, mishaps, scrapes, bruises, injuries, frustrations, delays, stresses, breakdowns, tears, disagreements, and similar challenges that make us all human. This isn't heaven. But those things were rare and didn't define our experience. They didn't last beyond a moment. They didn't overcome us or keep us stuck. In Christ, we overcame them all... and usually with an attitude of joy and laughter.

This trip was an instant classic! From start to finish God did what only God can do because we invited Him into every part and gave Him the room to work in our lives.

Group events are like an ice sculpture. They're amazing, awe-inspiring, beautiful, special, and a lot of hard work. But they are unique one-of-a-kind works of art created for that one moment in time. Although the ice will melt, the experience and memories will be savored forever.

Now we prepare to sculpt another piece of ice as our next group arrives in a few days.

Thank you Jesus for another God-awesome SLAMMED Adventure Trip!!

SLAMMED 2018

"RAPID RESPONSE"

What was everyone's response to rafting down whitewater rapids???

They loved it!!!!!!!!!

Rafting day on the Ocoee River was so much fun with this enthusiastic group of adventurers!

SLAMMED 2018

Sunday, July 15, 2018

THE INDIAN "ROCKERS"!

We had a great and adventurous day rock climbing & rappelling on Friday with the young adult ministry from First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. Rock on!

SLAMMED 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018

PRAY HARD; PLAY HARD!

I don't know of a stronger bond possible than the bond of Christ. Brotherhood and sisterhood authentically forged from a shared faith. It's even thicker than blood!

This is our daily devotional time together when we share what God is teaching us before we go play in God's amazing playground. This week we are reading Philippians. Great times =)

SLAMMED 2018

Thursday, July 12, 2018

THAT'S MY NEPHEW!

Because simply sliding over or jumping off a waterfall isn't enough!

(just add a frisbee to make everything even better!)

Great catch Carson =)

SLAMMED 2018

BABY FALLS!!!

One of the best waterparks ever!!

Thanks God!

SLAMMED 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

THE SLAMMED CREW HAS ARRIVED!

We have 35 campers that have arrived safe and sound to our remote group campsite in TN... 8 miles outside of cell phone range. They just finished setting up camp and eating dinner. Our 23rd Annual SLAMMED Adventure Trip is underway!!!

(Updates will be posted when we have access to cell phone coverage)

LAW BREAKER! ...ROUND HAY BALES OUTLAWED!!

We are back in TN and we came across this law breaker. Round hay bales have been outlawed in TN and 42 other states nationwide. Does anyone know why? 

Answer: Because the cows aren't getting 3 square meals per day!! (Hahahaha! Credit to Dennis McCormick)

JOIN US IN UTAH IN SEPTEMBER... ....FOR A TRIP OF A LIFETIME!!

Join GTD, Pastor Willy & Cheryl Rice, and Calvary Church of Clearwater for a 6 day trip of a lifetime to Zion National Park & Bryce National Park in Utah September 3-8, 2018 (just 2 months away!!).

This is a private trip GTD is running for Calvary that Pastor Willy has graciously allowed GTD to use a few spots to make publicly available to GTD's faithful adventurers.

We will be staying in an incredible oversized rental home at Zion Ponderosa and daily visiting Zion & Bryce National Parks (2 of the top National Parks in the nation).

One of our main (optional) destinations will be the iconic Narrows river hike that is featured in this month's Backpacker Magazine!!

I'm currently in TN running our summer camps so I won't be able to immediately respond to comments or questions, but the cost of the trip is $800/person plus airfare & meals. Your flight has to arrive at Las Vegas International Airport by 11am of Sept 3rd and depart from the same airport the morning of Sept 8th (feel free to extend your personal vacation before and/or after those timeframes).

For more details and to register through Calvary's online registration click here: https://calvary.us/hikeutah/

It's going to be AMAZING!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR!

This is Ken, one of my awesome new neighbors and a fellow brother in Christ. The GTD truck is still up in TN and he thought I was still up there running summer camps so he came over to mow my yard at the new house simply out of the kindness and brotherly love in his heart. When I let him know I was back home he said he still wanted to mow the lawn and not to worry about the lawn when I go back up to TN. Wow, what a guy! My heart is full from such thoughtfulness. Neighborly kindness abounds over here and I hope to be that type of neighbor to my new neighbors in my new hood =)

Friday, July 6, 2018

VOLUNTEERS ARE THE ATP OF ANY MINISTRY!

Within the human body ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) "is the major energy currency of the cell, providing the energy for most of the energy-consuming activities of the cell." Without ATP virtually nothing gets done in the body.

Similarly, volunteers are the spiritual ATP (Answers To Prayers) for ministries (the Body of Christ). Without competent & capable volunteers virtually nothing gets done on a "cellular level" in any ministry.

GTD is so thankful and blessed to have had 8 fantastic volunteers (& 3 staff) over the past 2 weeks to help on our non-stop daily adventures!! 5 of the incredible volunteers are 15 years old (1 Timothy 4:12)!!

Our profound thanks and gratitude for these amazing ATP's (Answers To Prayers)!!!! Thank you Katherine, Katie, Tyler, Lucas, Jackson, Stacy, Jessica, Mark, Laurie, & Carson for your sacrifice, dedication, passion, and hard work that helped turn the vision of a God-awesome summer camp into a reality!! God bless you guys!

I can't wait to do it again!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Boarding Flight

Boarding our cheap flights home ($42 each way!)... it was cheaper to fly home than to drive or even stay in TN camping for the next week between trips. Hoping to see the fireworks from above! Happy 4th!!

THEY CAME. THEY CAMPED. THEY CONQUERED... WITH ZEAL!

We are already savoring a God-awesome instant classic Adventure Trip with the high school youth group from Calvary Chapel Fellowship! Our 5 day adventure with this wonderful group of teenagers ended yesterday, but not before God encouraged, inspired, and impacted in significant ways. The group bonded closely to each other as they grew closer to God and were pushed & stretched beyond their comfort zones to new levels of growth & development in a very short amount of time. That's why we love camp... it's an incubator of accelerated mechanisms of growth. All the unknowns, unexpected challenges, "difficulties", "problems", new experiences, adventurous activities, time in God's Word, time in God's creation, time being pushed outside of your comfort zone, time away from technology & cell phones, time to use your imagination, time away from distractions and drama, time to be free, time to be creative, time to talk and play with others, time to take healthy risks together, time spent in an intentional & healthy environment absent of discouragement, time to cultivate authentic relationships, time to learn new things, time to sweat hard together, time to work hard together... it all adds up in a short amount of time to become a powerful set of mechanisms of growth, bonding, and personal development. We would wish it upon everyone!! But we were honored and blessed to experience it with this incredible group of young people and their leaders who all kept it real and kept the zeal!! Thank you CCF for the honor & privilege of hosting your youth summer camps! Thank you Jesus for all that you do and the ways that you do it! Glory to God!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

SOMETIMES G.T.D. = Giant Thunderstorms Dominate

After a full night of thunderstorms (and very little sleep) our rock climbing day had to be cancelled yesterday. Carson and I drove out to our climbing spot to see if there was any possible way to pull it off, but the dense fog blocked any sunshine from being able to dry the wet rocks and the trail was too slippery (I fell a few times while hiking towards our climbing routes). So we switched to PLAN B (a delicious breakfast at a restaurant called "The Rusty Bike", Ultimate frisbee, team sports, another awesome visit to Goats On The Roof, hiking to incredible waterfalls, swimming, an outdoor movie, wonderful praise & worship, and our nightly Impact Point around the campfire). This group turned a "let down" into a "launching ground" of fun times and lifelong memories as they rolled with the punches. It was a great day!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

UNFORGETTABLE DAY!

We had a God-awesome day in "God's natural waterpark" at Turtleback Falls & Rainbow Falls with the high school youth group from Calvary Chapel Fellowship. Sliding, jumping, hiking, and swimming... the students loved every moment of it... and so did we! We ended the night with campfire praise and a message from Titus 2 about self-control. It was an unforgettable day! Glory to God =)