Thursday, September 23, 2021

SADDENED =(...AND "DYING FROM TRYING"

I'm so saddened to see so many friends going through so many heartbreaking situations - the loss of parents, spouses, friends, and loved ones as well as the brutal hurts and pains that others are currently enduring. I haven't had any time over the past 6 weeks to check-in on social media and I've been learning of so many devastating things that friends are experiencing and it breaks my heart. I'm so sorry dear friends... and I'm very sorry I'm such a lame friend right now that I can't even support you in some of your hardest hours.
 
My own personal situation pales in comparison to the devastating losses so many people are going through. I'm not trying to be MIA or distant in any way... I just have been racing back and forth from Caregiving for my parents to my job & life responsibilities. I'm so far behind on everything that I can't even put it into words - mail, emails, voicemails, text messages, social media - basically all forms of communication. My job, my other top priorities, my other daily & weekly responsibilities, my personal health, everything other than Caregiving are all suffering at a greater and greater amount with every week that passes. Almost every other day I have another small set-back like broken-down air conditioner, broken-down washer & dryer, dogs clawing through drywall when they get freaked out by thunderstorms, lightning strike that blows out the internet router, regular lawn flooding, wind & rain damage to several outdoor items, running out of propane for house gas stove with a 3 week waiting period because of worker shortages, blah, blah, blah. For nearly 3 months I haven't had any time to address these small issues that pile up week after week.
 
After returning in July from 5 weeks of fantastic summer camps (PTL!) in North Carolina I had 5 weeks of Caregiving hours to make up for. My awesome partner in crime and I split the weekly hours in half and each take-on about 85 hours per week of taking care of our parents. To make up for my weeks away I bumped up my weekly Caregiving hours to around 120 hours for the rest of July and most of August. Any small openings in the Caregiving schedule I race over to put out one of the fires or run a GTD event. Most days I honestly don't know if I'm coming or going. My brain is a fog. I daily struggle with frustration, anger, and honestly I'm defeated most days. The past 9 months have worn me down and worn me out. The grace of God, the role Jesus plays in my life, and the ability to endure tough times that my Mom has passed on to her kids have enabled me to survive... on some days I barely survive. There are so many other layers to this Caregiving journey that we've been on the past 9 months that I don't have time to explain, but it has been torture watching my Mom go through the emotional pain that Alzheimer's can cause. Basically her mind is reliving the worst years of her life over and over and over again, and we can't do anything to stop it. I looked forward to helping take care of our parents as they aged. I severely underestimated many aspects of it. I recently heard of a Caregiving term that I unfortunately find myself identifying with more and more. The phrase is: "Dying From Trying". That pretty much sums it up. My Mom's physical health is strong. She could easily live 10 more years, but what my sister and I are doing is unsustainable. At the rate we are going we won't be healthy enough to take care of our parents in a few months. We are having to reevaluate our current situation and our current trajectory. We knew we couldn't sustain this for more than a few months. We have lasted 9 months. We have to make some immediate adjustments. We have no other choice. Thank you for your prayers and love. Please pray for wisdom and discernment as we start making some necessary changes in order to find a sustainable solution. We know our Mom wouldn't want us to do all that we've been doing for the past 9 months. Our love for our parents compels us to try.
 
 
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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

DRUM ROLL (THAT'S NOT A SUSHI ROLL)!...GTD'S UPCOMING PUBLIC EVENTS!!

We are excited to announce our public event schedule for the 2nd half of 2021! Just like our first 7 months of public events as part of our celebration of 25 years of ministry each of these events are either FREE or $25!! Yayyy!!!

<> VOLUNTEER WORK DAY(S): FREE!
         Aug 21 & 22 (Sat 9a-6p & Sun 1p-6p) 
         Location: GTD Office in Pinellas Park
         - Lunch, snacks, & hydration provided!
  
<> SIDEWINDER PADDLEBOARDING: FREE!
         Sept 26 (Sun 1p-5p) 
         Location: TBD - Pinellas County
         - Our newest activity!
  
<> IGNITE ExSCREAM FALL RETREAT: $25
         Oct 29-31 (Fri 3p thru Sun noon)
         Location: Superb Campground in Ocala
         - We have our own lake, dining hall, & spots for RV's!
  
<> ANNUAL BANQUET: $25
         Nov 16 (Tues 6:30p-9p)
         Location: Largo Cultural Center 
         - Celebrating 25 years of ministry!
  
<> LIQUID KAYAKING TREK: FREE!
         Dec 5 (Sun 1p-5p)
         Location: TBD - Pinellas County
         - A pre-CHRISTmas yakking edition!
  
Website and Registration links are in the works... more info to come... plan ahead to come play in God's amazing playground with GTD!!
  
  
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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

THANK YOU CRAMMED VOLUNTEERS!!...WAIT, IS THAT A GOAT?!?!


This summer we were blessed with so many great volunteers to help out on each Adventure Trip! Here's our awesome crew from the CRAMMED Adventure Trip. They lightened our workload and added so much fun to the trip! A couple of them came as participants and ended up volunteering! We love those kind of conversions ;) 
  
Thank you Josh, Carson, Stacy, Duncan (the goat), Niki, EJ, and Sebastian!! You guys are M.A.D. (Making A Difference)!


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Saturday, July 31, 2021

BLOWN AWAY BY 32 STRANGERS!!

2 weeks ago 32 hard-working Jesus-loving singles from CS3040 (Christian Singles in their 30's & 40's) BLEW US AWAY with their volunteer efforts at GTD Central Command (aka: my house). And the most astounding part is that we didn't know a single one of them, and almost all of them had never heard of GTD! 32 "STRANGERS" blessed GTD beyond measure and 14 days later we are still savoring and cherishing the heart and efforts of this astonishing group of people. They had simply read some of our posts on Facebook a few months ago and contacted me to start coordinating the efforts. We planned & prepared, but I never anticipated the level of highly-motivated, hard-working, enthusiastic, loving, capable workers that would show up that day to work nonstop in 95 degree oppressively humid heat that day. It's such an amazing thing to see the Body of Christ in selfless service for a ministry for whom they did not know. And yet, it felt more like a family reunion than anything else. I love that the power of God and our shared bond in Christ makes for an instant Family of God. We are so so so soooooooo touched. We have organized mission trips to help total strangers and we've had plenty of volunteers help in this ministry that we've already known, but I've never been on the receiving end of the level of volunteer efforts from people I've never met before. I can't tell you how beautiful it was and how profoundly powerful it was to experience as the recipient. A friend recently told me that, "When it works right, there no more powerful force for good on this planet that God has ever invented that can compare to the Body of Christ." All I can say is that is exactly what I feel like I experienced!! And to top it off, Chris Wade from People Helping People of Pinellas Park trimmed 6 oak trees!!! He was a one man powerhouse of relentless selfless effort! Aaaaaand, if that wasn't enough, my Dad cooked up pulled pork and made homemade ice cream for everyone!! And my awesome neighbors made delicious egg roles that we all happily devoured! Thank you so much to this amazing group of selfless servants that abundantly blessed this ministry and those who coordinated their efforts!! They got so much done! We are forever grateful and humbled.
   
Projects included: prepping the top of the storage container for a future silicone cool-sealant, starting to set up the vinyl fencing for the front of the house, pressure washing the back-of-the-property wood fencing for staining, restructuring the inside of the trailer, painting the trailer doors, repairing the dog / storage box, tree trimming, and several other tasks. 































 
 
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Thursday, July 22, 2021

FUNNY STORY:

Yesterday I was sitting on the front porch with my parents. We were all rocking away in rocking chairs in a "pleasant" 94 degrees. My Mom is 90 and I'm 50 (going on 23). One of the neighborhood boys who is 9 years old stopped by to say hi to my parents. He was bored. So I asked him if he had a kickball or something similar. He went home and got a soccer ball. So, just a few feet away from my parents, he and I played a fun little playground game called "Bottle Cap" that I learned a few months ago from ZEAL youth group. Eventually he had to go home (after I soundly defeated him of course - haha). Today I was just inside the glass / screen door watching my Mom rocking away in her rocking chair while I returned some phone calls. The neighborhood boy rode up on his bike and went over to my Mom and asked, "Can your son come out to play?" Baahahahahaha!! My Mom started laughing... she hasn't heard that question in about 40 years!! What a precious kid! That made my day! I don't think I'll ever stop being a kid at heart - hahaha!
 
 
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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

JUST A BRIEF PERSONAL UPDATE...

We are finishing up our 7th month of 24/7 Caregiving with our parents. I was able to run 4 weeks of extraordinary GTD events (glory to God!) in June in NC. Now I'm back in FL and living at my parents' house for at least the month of July so that I can help them with their needs. I've got a fulltime house and dog sitter staying at my house while I'm at my folks so don't even think about trying to steal my Christmas wrapping paper wallpaper! I'm weeks & months behind on things like thank you notes, phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook Messenger, mail, mailouts, office work, work projects, social media updates, etc, etc. I'm fortunate if I can get 1 personal/work task done each day. This isn't a complaint... just an update about my current limitations. Last week we started phasing in a day each week away from my parents' house to take care of personal/work responsibilities. I hope to slowly get caught up over the next few months. My sincerest apologies to those I haven't been able to respond back to yet... or personally thank... I have so many people to thank for so many things and I'm especially looking forward to expressing my appreciation, love, and gratefulness =) 
 
 
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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

THE FAMILIES THAT PADDLE TOGETHER MAKE FUN MEMORIES TOGETHER!

 
About 10 days ago we were blessed and honored to supply an afternoon of kayaking for my next door neighbor's family reunion. They are a wonderful Vietnamese family from all over the United States. We took 20 family members (which was about half of the family that was in town) kayaking on Long Bayou. They were so much fun! We had a dodgeball style squishy ball war, a kayaking race, and a short tour of the bayou. If you've ever volunteered to work at the current GTD office (aka: my house) then you may have indulged in some delicious egg rolls or lemongrass steak that they've made for us. They are amazing cooks and wonderful people! We had so much fun paddling with them!!
 
 
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Friday, July 16, 2021

I CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO ARTICULATE MY OVERWHELMING GRATITUDE!!!

Just before we left to run four weeks of Adventure Trips in North Carolina we had a series of Volunteer Work Days throughout the month of May. The response was astounding! I can't even begin to articulate my overwhelming gratitude for the selfless servant-hearted people (some of whom I had never met before) who showed up to help GTD and me to get ready to host some of the best summer camps in our 25 years of ministry! Many of you know that my sister and I are in a season of Caregiving for our parents that is requiring 80+ hours per week from each of us. We are so tired... soooooo exhausted. We needed help from our volunteers in order to pull off an amazing month of camps, but what we received was beyond anything we could have imagined. Selfless servants of God who simply wanted to use their abilities & availability to help the cause. They turned our MAYday of MAYhem in the month of MAY into 4 weeks of aMAYzing grace and accomplishment!! They reorganized our storage container, installed a security gate, inventoried our mobile pantry, repacked our trailer, fortified our trailer door, built a shelf to hold kayak paddles, built 4 new portable showers, relocated and installed a new mailbox, painted countless boards, and helped us pack up everything we needed to be ready to host some of our largest groups ever!! They not only helped us on our way, they launched us into an unprecedented 3 perfect trips in a row (it's rare to have one perfect trip in 5 years!) followed by our most attended and one of our best SLAMMED events ever! Their help lightened our load and filled our hearts. I can't accurately put into words how much their help caused us to succeed. It was a game changer! From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of a grateful ministry, thank you so much selfless servants of God for all that you did to bless us and to be a blessing through us to all the people we served at camp. You impacted a lot of lives for the glory of God!! Thank you so much and God bless you dear friends!!