Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 Posts of 2011

I'm really having a hard time believing 2011 is nearly over.  This has definitely been the fastest I remember a year going by.  I'm once again reminded of doing my best to not waste the time God has graciously given to me.  The picture above is one of my favorite youth ministry pictures taken this year.  It pretty much describes how I feel sometimes ... having lots of fun, feeling pulled in many different directions, but feeling blessed and loved all at the same time.

Below I've listed my 10 favorite posts from 2011 (there are a few extras in there.  It's sort of like getting a baker's dozen.)  I continue to enjoy typing out some of my thoughts.  It's often very therapeutic for me to do so and, I hope, enjoyable and encouraging for others to read.  

10.  Feels Like Home ... a post about my Bible.

9. All the reasons I love my church ...Why I Love My ChurchAnother Reason Why I Love Our Church and I Really Love My Church

8. What I Learn from a Loss ... my thoughts after the Steelers' lost the Super Bowl.

7. Dig a Little Deeper ... what happens when you're willing to go below the surface with people.

6. What's That Smell?  ... thoughts after an impromptu giving of shoes at our church

5. Final Nicaragua Update ... my final thoughts after our mission trip to Nicaragua

4. Walking  Through Some Fear and It's Benefits ... my journey learning how to swim this year.

3. My Utah Hikes:  The Narrows, Bryce Canyon, Emerald Pools/Weeping Rock, and Angel's Landing.

2. My Vows to My Daughter and What's in a Name ... the vows I wrote to Torah for her first birthday and how we chose the names for our three kids.

1. Indiana Tough Mudder Recap ... my thoughts after completing "probably the toughest event on the planet" ... a Tough Mudder.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Axis Wrap Up - Bringing Christmas Home 12-21-11

We had our last axis of 2011 this past Wednesday ... which is so hard to believe.  But, our night was just great and I can't really think of any better way to end the year.  We had so many different elements that make youth ministry so much fun ... we gave away free hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles, students were serving all over the place, fun videos and a fun game, great worship music, we took a special offering and blessed a family in our youth ministry, we shared the Gospel and kids got saved ... just an amazing night! We had approximately 20 students that responded with decisions Wednesday night.  I loved seeing God move and loved seeing Him work in the lives of our kids.

Below is a pic of two very faithful students in our youth ministry.  This has been a really difficult year for their family.  They lost their dad to cancer early in the year and then, just a few month later, their mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and has been going through chemo treatments for several months.  It's just been one of those situations that you look at and think "Why?"  But, they have responded to everything so incredibly and I have been blown away by their faith and their positive attitude.  It's been really hard, but through it all, God has been shining through their lives.  Anyway, we took a special offering, raised hundreds of dollars and surprised them with it on Wednesday just to let them know how much we love them..

Our last axis of 2011 was a really special night and I loved seeing our kids have fun, serve, give generously, and respond to God.  

A Scare at Home

Above is my baby girl Torah.  She's just a little over 1 year old.  You may notice a bandage on her right hand and some blood on her shirt.  Well, there's a reason for that.  This past Monday we had a bit of a scare in the Yauger household.  My wife had an appointment and I was at home getting my son ready for pre-school.  Torah and my other daughter Mercy were playing near our bedroom.  Well, I hear the bedroom door slammed shut and a few seconds later I hear Torah crying.  Crying happens all the time in a home full of toddlers so I didn't initially think anything of it until my son pointed out to me "Dad, I think I see blood!"  Well, that doesn't happen all the time in our household so I went to go check things out and I see my poor baby girl covered in blood.  And then I noticed her little finger ... with a part of it missing!  My heart just sank.  Mercy had accidentally shut Torah's finger in our bedroom door and it literally took the tip of her finger off!  I picked her up and did my best to get the bleeding under control and to try to comfort my baby girl.  I was covered in blood.  She was covered in blood.  Ezra and Mercy ... well they were coloring (a strong sense of compassion hasn't quite developed in their 4 and 2 year old spirits).  Thankfully, everything turned out to be OK.  We took her to the doctor.  Nothing was broken.  Just the tip of her finger was gone (which we still haven't found yet, but that's another story).  We've had a few more trips to the doctor this week to get the finger looked at and Torah seems to be doing just fine.  The doctor said in a few month we won't even be able to notice that anything happened!  But, what a scare.

For parents, seeing their kids hurt is one of the hardest things in the world.  I so wanted to be able to take the hurt away ... to just make the pain stop.  All of that got me thinking about Jesus coming to earth at Christmas and God the Father knowing the pain that Jesus was going to eventually experience for you and for me AND, for the first time EVER God the Father was going to have to turn His face from Jesus as He took the penalty for our sin.  

"For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His one and only Son that WHOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have EVER-LASTING life."  John 3:16

As a parent I have an entirely different appreciation for that verse and for the love that was shown to me and to each of us on that night Jesus was born.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Simple Challenge

I was reading Acts 10 for my quiet time the other day and was really struck by the way a man name Cornelius was known.  Verse 2 says "He gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly."  Then, later in verse 4 we are told that an angel of God came to him in a vision and the angel said this:  "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God."  What I found really challenging is that this guy Cornelius was known by his peers as a person who prays and gives generously and, more importantly, was known by God as a person who prays and gives generously.  My take-a-way from those verses ... be a person of prayer and a person of generosity.  That seminary degree really comes in handy.  :)

So, if you're reading this today, that's my simple challenge to you.  Are you praying?  Are you giving?  What a great way to be known by others and by God.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Axis Wrap Up - Bringing Christmas Home

We started our Christmas series, Bringing Christmas Home, this past Wednesday at axis.  I am a sucker for everything Christmas and really love this time of year.  So, I'm always excited when I have the opportunity to, well, project my love for Christmas on to our youth ministry.  The games, the music, the opening videos all have a great Christmas "feel" to them.  But, I often feel the pressure of trying to come up with something super creative to talk about at Christmas.  I put the pressure on myself to spice up the Christmas story a bit.  Well, as I was thinking about that while preparing to speak, I was very convicted about my attitude.  I mean, seriously, Jesus crossing the expanse of the Universe to become a human to show His love and to allow us the opportunity to know God ... that doesn't need spiced up.  That's the greatest thing that has ever happened to us!  Whether we believe it or not, whether we accept it or not, whether we turn to God or not ... God's love for us would not be stopped.  To date, astronomers have found a galaxy that is 13 billion light years away from us.  If I'm not mistaken, that's the farthest object we are able to detect.  13 billion light years means that, traveling at 186,000 miles per hour, it would still take 13 billion years to get there ... but not even that distance could come close to stopping Jesus and His pursuit of us.  He crossed the expanse of the Universe to declare His love and to allow us to know Him.  

We used this video to sort of illustrate the idea that God would not be stopped in His pursuit of us.  

We used two verses, John 1:1 and 1:14 to speak of God's passion for us and what the Christmas story is all about.  My encouragement to our students was simply this ... let's stay focused on Jesus.  Jesus is the greatest gift we've ever been give.  Don't exchange that gift for anything else.  

It was really a good night filled with some fun dancing, great worship, and topped off by a girl coming up to me after our senior high time and asked me "What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?"  I had the opportunity to lead her to Jesus that night!  

Next Week:  Bringing Christmas Home with Generosity

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It Took Twice As Long But ...

My wife and I have a tradition where we always put up our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year has been no different, but what is different for us is that our son and daughter REALLY love "helping" decorate the tree.  If you've ever done anything with little children you'll understand that the process is just a whole lot longer.  What used to take my wife an I and hour or two now takes 3 to 4 hours with our kids .. but it's so worth it!

I'm a sucker for everything Christmas and love trying to make it a fun, special time for my family.  My encouragement to you is this ... what are you doing to make Christmas memorable and special for your family?  Dads, often times we leave this up to our wives to plan but why not take the lead this year and come up with some special things to do together as a family.  Surprise your family by saying we're dropping everything to go out for hot chocolate and look at Christmas lights.  Be overly generous by sacrificing some of what you would spend on your family and spend it on someone else.  Initiate the Christmas story and talk about why Jesus came to earth.  It may take a little extra effort on your part, especially after a long day at work, but that effort will be so worth it.  Your family will appreciate what you are doing and you'll create some lasting memories to share with each other.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Axis Wrap Up - "All In for God"

We had a great night at axis on Wednesday with a really powerful challenge on what it means to be "all in" for God.  We looked at Romans 12:1 - 2 and spent some time discussing what that could look like in our lives if we truly offered ourselves as a sacrifice to God and were truly transformed.  Just tried to be straight with our kids letting them know that following Jesus is more than showing up on a Wednesday night ... it's more than showing up on a Sunday morning.  When you follow Jesus, you do just that ... you follow Him.  You order your life around His way of life, not trying to be perfect or anything like that, but simply striving to know Him deeper and live as He would live.  I believe many of our kids left with a greater understanding of what it means to follow Jesus and left with a greater desire to do just that.

We also had a new game called "Feets of Strength."  The idea was simple ... we just did some games that required lots of strength.  (I'm just that creative).  :)  We had a rope climb (both guys and girls volunteered to do it) and we had an old Indian stick wrestling game that was lots of fun to watch.  Kids really seemed to enjoy doing them and watching them.  Here are some pics and a video below.

Next week week we start our Christmas series!  Can't wait.

The Star Wars Scavenger Hunt

I'm a really big Star Wars fan.  Growing up, I entertained myself hours on end playing with action figures or being in the woods behind my house saving the Universe from the "Empire."  So many good memories and it was so much fun for me.  Well, earlier this year I passed along my Star Wars action figures to my son.  He's loved playing with them, but honestly, I only had a few action figures left.  As we've seen other Star Wars action figures in books that we've read to him, he's always asked me, "Dad, did you have that action figure growing up?"  Well, somewhere along the line, he became convinced that I simply lost the action figures and the next time we went to Grandma and Grandpap's house, we'd find them.  

So, I decided to really try to make this fun for my son.  I got on Ebay and bought some old Star Wars action figures ... not the "mint" condition ones that are like crazy, super expensive ... but the ones that somebody really had fun with and just didn't want them anymore.  So, I bought some and when we got to my parents house, I took a little bit of time to hide them outside.  I then asked Ezra if he wanted to try to help me find some of the ones I lost.  It was SO much fun!  He's done nothing but play with those things since we've been back from my parents place.  

He was always fascinated with Jabba the Hutt.  So, I wanted to be sure I got one of those with him.  This is his reaction when he found Jabba outside.  It's worth the 40 seconds to watch the video just to find out how he described what Jabba looks like.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Indiana Tough Mudder Gear

When I was training for the Indiana Tough Mudder, I found it really helpful to go to the blogs of people who had did one previously and learn about their experience and what type of stuff they wore the day of the race.  So, thought I'd do the same and hopefully it will be helpful for someone out there getting ready for one of the best experiences they could ever have ... a Tough Mudder.

The Indiana Mudder was cold.  I don't have quite the physique to run shirtless (without causing someone around me to throw up in their mouths) haha ... so I was looking for some cold weather gear.  The UnderArmour Cold Weather Leggings were a huge help for me.  They kept me warm, kept my legs from getting really scracthed up, and honestly were just really comfortable to wear.

The UnderArmour Cold Gear Compression Mock was a great shirt for me also.  I had never owned a compression shirt before and, not only did it keep me very warm during the race, but it was very comfortable.  I could barely tell that I was wearing it.  I also wore one of my running shirts over top of it.  

You never know what to expect from a November in Indiana.  I was anticipating the temperature to be very cold.  When we started the race, it was in the 30's, but warmed up as our time went on.  But, the wind was very chilly and, combine that with all of the water obstacles ... I definitely wanted to be warm.  So, I also decided to buy an Under Armour Cold Gear Hood.  It was really helpful and dried out quickly after the water obstacles.  When I got hot (which was only the first mile of the Mudder because we hadn't been in the water yet) I just pulled it down.  Once we started getting wet, I pulled it back over my head and kept it there the rest of the race.  

Gloves were a concern for me.  I was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and went through 7 months of chemotherapy treatments.  Ever since that time, my hands and feet have been very sensitive to the cold (one of the gifts of chemo that keeps on giving).  So, I wanted a glove that I was confident would keep my hands warm, but also one that would allow me to have full use of my hands and fingers.  I settled for the UnderArmour Cold Gear Liner Gloves.  My hands only got cold after being fully submerged in the water.  But, the gloves dried out quickly.  That combined with simply the desire to keep moving, kept my hands and fingers fairly warm.  The grip of the glove was adequate.  Not great.  Not awful.  My only real complaint with the gloves is that is was hard to get the mud off of them.  Really, the only thing that would remove the mud was when I'd get in the water.  I liked the purchase, but would consider using another glove for future Mudders.

Part of my training for the Mudder involved running through a retention pond on our church's property and also running through a creek at a local spillway.  Most of the times it was done early in the morning and was very cold.  At first, I only had running socks and I noticed that my feet would get really, really cold after being in the water and that the socks didn't wick the water away as much as I had hoped.  A friend of mine then suggested wool socks.  So, I got a pair of those and was really pleased with how they worked.  The only time my feet got cold during the Mudder was when we did a part called the Frozen Forrest.  We were literally in waist deep water for 15 to 20 minutes.  By the end of that I was pretty cold.  But, overall, the wool socks were awesome.  I purchased the Pearl Izumi Infinity Trail Sock

A few other things that I found helpful ... Body Glide Anti Chaffing, Band-aids (sounds gross, but on the nipples), and a pair of ear plugs.  Much of the heat that is lost from the body is lost through the ears.  So, I just wore a pair of ear plugs throughout the race.  My shoes were simply a pair of road running shoes that I had worn for my marathon last year.  I had debated on whether or not to buy a pair of trail shoes, but decided against it ... honestly because I didn't have the extra $80 to $100 to get them.  But, next time I think I would invest in a good pair of trail shoes.

Overall, I was very happy with all of my gear.  I didn't really get cold at all until after the race when I was just standing around waiting to get my bag.  Gloves and shoes are the only thing I would change about what I wore.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Video Recap of Indiana Tough Mudder

A video of me and the rest of our church staff doing the Indiana Tough Mudder.

Tough Mudder 2011- I Am Legacy Grace Community Church Staff Team from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

Indiana Tough Mudder Recap

Four months ago when I was challenged to do the Indiana Tough Mudder I remember thinking to myself ... "I'm not sure I can do that."  But, as I sit here and reflect on it all, I realize that it wasn't a matter of not being ABLE to do it, but simply not WANTING to do it.  There's a huge difference.  In all honesty, I probably would not have chosen to do it on my own, but I was challenged by a group of guys that I have the utmost respect for and would go to battle with them any day of the week.  And, when they chose to battle the Tough Mudder, I wasn't going to allow them to do it without me.  So, I sit here two days after becoming an official "Tough Mudder" with, not only a fair amount of soreness, but also an incredible sense of accomplishment.  I, along with my teammates, am a Tough Mudder!  Below is a recap of the Mudder.  I tried to remember everything as accurately as I could, but honestly, some of the obstacles are a bit jumbled in my memory.  But, this will give you a pretty clear description of one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Some of the pictures below are of our team and some are simply from the Tough Mudder facebook page.

This was the start of the race.  It was so motivating.  The music, the Star Spangled Banner, the talk from one of the workers ... seriously, I was ready to run in to a wall afterwards because I was so pumped up.  One of the lines I'll never forget:  "This course was designed to hurt you."  That, right away, gave me a respect for the challenge ahead of me.

We started out with a fun, but pretty difficult run.  I was so charged up from the start of the race, but it took about the first 1/2 mile to suck that out of me.  If you think there are not hills in Indiana, just visit the Attica Badlands and you'll think differently.  The hills, many of them simply sand, really were a challenge and got you warmed up quickly.  That's me in the red shirt and black hoodie, by the way, running next to my teammate Jim.

This was CLIFHanger ... the first real obstacle we encountered.  It was just one very steep and very muddy hill.  Most people needed a boost from behind or a hand to grab on to above to make it up.

After the difficult run and hill, we came to the Kiss of Mudd.  Barbed wire above, nothing but mud underneath.  Honestly, this was a fun obstacle, we all came out about 5 pounds heavier because of the mud that was caked on us.

After that came the Chernobyl Jacuzzi.  The good news ... it washed all the mud off.  The bad news ... it was absolutely freezing!  It was basically a dumpster filled with about 4 1/2 feet of ice water.  Half way through the obstacle is a board that you have to duck under, so you have no choice but to entirely submerse your body.  I really mentally prepared myself for this so when I took the initial jump in with my teammate Jon, I didn't really feel all the bone chilling cold ... but I think that was probably just because my body went in to shock!  Once I had to submerge my head, though, the cold really started to sink in and my only thought was "Get to the other side as fast as possible!"  

After that, you really needed to start moving or you'd freeze up very quickly.  So we started a brisk run with numb bodies and made it to the next obstacle ... Log Jammin'.  We had to climb over a series of very high logs.  Again, tough, but fun, with lots of teamwork.

Next up was the Swamp Stomp.  Up to that point in my life, it was the thickest mud I had ever seen or been in.  I don't know how long we were in it, but it seemed like forever!  Seriously, the mud just seemingly sucked every part of your body in to it.  I was next to a girl who was literally stuck in the mud ... stuck ... could not move.  We leave no "mudder" behind so for the next few minutes I would grab her foot and pull it out of the mud so she could take a step.  We then repeated this process for several minutes until she was able to go on her own.


From there we came to the Berlin Walls.  There were several sets of these walls throughout the course.  I believe the walls were 12 feet high.  Throughout the course there would sometimes only be one wall or there would be two or three sets of walls you had to climb over.  That's me in the red with my teammate Kirt helping me over.  I was glad to get over each wall but they were a challenge and became more challenging the  longer we were on the course.  At the second set of walls we came to, someone had fallen and was seriously hurt.  Our team took some time to pray for this person.  I'm not sure what happened, but sure hope he is OK.

Boulderdash was just a series of boulders and man-built obstacles to get through.

Creek Crusade was just a long run through a creek.  Actually pretty fun and just felt like being a kid running through the water ... except it was really cold and I was covered with mud.

After that we rounded a corner on our run and I saw what was next ... Walk the Plank.  This was the biggest mental obstacle for me of the entire race.  I'm 40 years old and just learned how to swim this year because I knew I had to know how to swim to be a part of the Mudder.  I also knew that I had a very large fear of water and I did not want fear to be a part of my family and I didn't want to pass that on to my kids.  You can read about me learning how to swim right here.  Throughout the weeks leading up to the Mudder I had been visualizing myself jumping off that 15 to 20 foot platform.  I prayed about it often.  I didn't ask God to take the fear away, but I simply asked for the courage to walk through it.  When we got to the obstacle you had to use a rope to climb to the top of the platform.  When I got to the top, there was a lady in front of me who was freaking out.  I remember thinking to myself "This is NOT what I need to see right now."  I realized that she wasn't going to go, so I got around her, looked to see if it was clear and then went to jump.  But, right when I reached the edge my legs just stopped.  I don't think I consciously stopped them ... they just stopped as if to tell me "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" (Different Strokes reference for the day).  So, I stood there and re-grouped my thoughts and verbally spoke the words "I will not be afraid."  I thought about my kids and the legacy I want to leave for them of walking through fear.  So I jumped off and felt like I was falling from the Empire State Building.  I don't know how far I was in the water, but it seemed like it took an eternity to reach the top.  Once I reached the surface, I tried to take a breath, but the water was so incredibly cold that it literally took my breath away and I couldn't breath.  I started to swim as best as I could but was really amazed at how difficult it was for me to get through the cold water.  Everything on me was moving in slow motion.  I must have been swimming for the next 20 years or so because it felt like it took that long to reach the shore.  But, once I did and got out, even though I was so cold, the sense of accomplishment I felt created this warmth all over my body.  I knew I had conquered my biggest fear of the course ... and it was AWESOME!

Next up was the Boa Constrictor ... a series of drainage tubes leading in to cold water.  You went down a set in to the water and then up a set out of the water.

The "Turds Next" was next.  A cargo net you had to get across.  I chose to log roll through most of it and then bear crawl the last few feet when I needed to get to the platform on the other side.

Then came the Mud Mile.  I thought I had experienced the thickest mud of my life in the Swamp Stomp until I came to this part of the course.  I had never seen anything like this in my life!  It just stopped you in your tracks!  My thought was to get a good head of steam and try to get through it as fast as I could.  So, I started running, hit the mud, and then immediately lost my left shoe.  So, I had to get through the rest of the Mud Mile with one shoe on.  When I got to the end, it took 5 to 10 minutes to get my shoe untied and put back on.  My hands and the hands of everyone on our team were so cold that you just couldn't use them normally.  I was so angry because I was slowing down our team.  I was thankful that they were so helpful and didn't curse my name ... to my face anyway.  :)

We did a bit of a longer run through the woods (Frozen Forrest) in which we spent probably 20 minutes in water that was up to our waist.  It really started to get very cold, but we all got through it.  We then came to the Hay Bale Pyramids ... a series of very high hay bales we had to get over.  I actually enjoyed this one.

Hold Your Wood was just an obstacle where we had to grab a log and then carry it up a large hill.

We then had some more Walls to get over and also the Spider Web ... a large net we had to get through while climbing up a steep hill ... and then we came to our mystery obstacle.  About 50 feet of nothing but ice that you had to crawl through because there were live wires about 18 inches above.  This was the first electricity we encountered on the course.  For me, everything started out fine.  Started crawling through the ice and it was incredibly cold.  I got to about the mid-way point when, the next thing I know, I look up and it seemed like I was looking through a set of binoculars backwards.  Everything seemed far away and tunnel like.  I remember thinking "I'm done.  That wasn't too bad."  And, then I realized that I was still in the middle of the obstacle.  As things started to clear up in my head I realized "Wow.  I just got blacked out by one of the wires.  That was pretty cool!"  One of the wires hit me in the head and completely blacked me out.  Not sure for how long, but it definitely gave me a greater respect for this obstacle and the one to come at the end. I made my way through the rest of this getting hit with wires about three other times in the back and shoulders.  This was incredibly cold and I just wanted to get out of there.  My other teammate Jeff also got knocked out on this one.

Another run and then the Funky Monkey Bars.  That's me in the red.  I made it to about bar number 6 and promptly fell in to the water.  I was pretty tired up to this point and really thought I'd be able to make it at least half way.  This one totally kicked my butt.

A run through the Fire Walker obstacle, which really wasn't that bad, and by that time I was so cold that I just wanted to stand by one of the fires and warm up.  But, I was nearing the finish and wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

I'm not sure what this obstacle was called, but it just sucked!  Freezing cold water up to my chest and the footing beneath was so uneven.  I just kept on falling and at this point in the race was just tired of being wet.  It was a bit frustrating for me, but I got through it and was happy to be done with that one.

After the previous water obstacle you had to run up and down a series of hills.  When I rounded a corner I saw Everest and for the first time of the entire race I saw and obstacle and mentally said "Oh no."  That half pipe looked to be about 100 feet high!  This was my major butt kicking of the course.  Above you can see my teammate Jeremiah getting up.  The idea was to run as fast as you could, take a leap and then hopefully grab the top and pull yourself up or latch on to a set of arms and have some help getting up.  When it was my turn, I ran as fast as I could and about 1 foot before I reached the half-pipe, my foot hit a rock and I twisted my ankle and lost all my momentum.  I continued to run and then jump and didn't come close to a hand or to the top.  Once you fully commit to jumping and don't make it, your body just slams in to the half-pipe and you do, what I like to call the "Slide of Shame" back down to the bottom.  I tried 3 separate times and each time just slammed my body in to that half-pipe and wasn't even coming close to a hand.  That last time I hit my knee super hard.  Man, did that hurt.  Anyway, I conceded that obstacle.  If I would have been coming reasonably close to a hand I think I would have kept trying, but, seriously, it wasn't even close.  I was not going to get up it that way.  I'm the only one on my team who couldn't complete that obstacle and, even now it just really doesn't sit well with me.  I know I tried.  I know I gave it my best efforts, but I really wanted to get to the top.

One last crawl through mud and under barbed wire.  That's me in the first red shirt with my teammate Jeremy in the camo behind me and Jon in the black hoodie to my left.  

The last obstacle was Electroshock Therapy.  After being knocked out before, I had a new found respect for those wires and decided the best way to get through was just to go as fast as I could. I got zapped 3 or 4 times but all in the shoulder and chest.  Whatever part gets hit just sorta goes limp for a moment, but if I didn't get knocked down I was just going to plow through ... which is what I did.

Overall, this was just one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I've done half-marathons and I did my first marathon last year.  All, the marathon especially, left me with an amazing sense of accomplishment.  It just felt good to be challenged.  But, the Tough Mudder is an entirely different animal.  I was challenged, I think, in every way possible ... mentally, spiritually, and physically.  I had to face one of my major fears.  I had to overcome the elements ... I'm not sure what the temperature was, but it was probably in the 30's when we started.  But, the wind made it seem much colder.  So, in every way I was challenged and knowing that I made it through and got that head band ... I've never worn a head band with more pride in my life.  I, and everyone on our team, EARNED that thing.  The best part for me was doing it with guys I love.  We all helped each other and challenged each other and pushed each other.  Knowing we did it together and having that shared experience is priceless.  I think the best thing we all had going for us was that not completing the course wasn't even an option.  Dropping out was not even though about.  We all had the will to finish and we all helped each other finish and I'm so thankful for the guys that were on my team.  I really had to lean on God with the water obstacle and was constantly asking Him for courage.  The day of the race I got up at 3am and was getting ready and was able to spend some time praying.  I, once again, asked for courage, and I really felt like I heard the Holy Spirit say to me "I've already given it to you.  Stop asking already and just go do it."  That was sort of God's butt kicking to me in the morning and I needed it.  If you ever have a chance to do a Mudder, take the opportunity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Navy Seal Creed

Came across the Navy Seal Creed this past week and was so inspired after reading it.  If you're looking for some motivation, read below:
"In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.
Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life.
I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.
My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.
I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.
Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.
I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.
We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.
Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed.
I will not fail."

Axis Wrap Up - How to Raise Your Parents

Over the past two weeks we've been talking about our families at axis.  Both weeks I told our students that if their parents were here, I'd be talking to the parents about their role and responsibility in their family.  But, since parents were not there, that meant I was going to talk to our teenagers about their role and responsibility in their family.  Families work best when both parents and teenagers are fulfilling their roles and taking responsibility for what they can take responsibility for.

I wrapped up the series this past Wednesday by looking at three of our teenagers absolute FAVORITE verses (insert sarcasm) ... "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."  Ephesians 6:1 - 3.  The basic thought was that God says teenagers have a role and responsibility in their family:  1) To obey.  2) To honor.  Not very popular, but again, families work best when we are fulfilling our God-given roles.  I know that some teenagers often feel that the word "obey" is a dirty 4-letter word.  Part of being a teenager means that there is a desire for independence, a desire to find out and explore things on their own ... and that's healthy.  But, tension often occurs when a teenager's desire for independence conflicts with a parents responsibility to set up guidelines for their kids to follow.  I worked hard at trying to explain to our kids that their parents are not the enemy.  That parents do not set up boundaries and guidelines to ruin their lives but to help them develop in to God-loving, self-less, responsible teenagers and adults.  When done in the right way, the guidelines parents set up are there to teach and to protect.  We obey because it's "right" (Ephesians 6:1 - 3) and because it pleases God (Colossians 3:20).

Secondly, a teenager has a responsibility to honor their parents.  Honoring goes so much deeper than simply obeying your parents.  You can obey and NOT honor your parents if your obedience is done half-heartedly or disrespectfully.  (I've never did that).  :)  But, to honor means to show parents love and respect and to try to bring honor to them by how you live your life.  Some volunteers in our youth ministry told me one time that when their kids leave the house they always tell them "Remember who you are" ... meaning represent your family well and, even more importantly, represent Jesus well.  Honor is something we can give freely, but we have to choose to do it.  Again, God says families work best when teenagers fulfill their role and show honor to their parents.

It was a really good night.  Lots of fun with some Just Dance and a game called Turkey Toss.  And, we also got to hear from our team that went to Urban Hope in inner-city Philadelphia.  Next week is just a fun night with a Super Hero theme, a movie, some dodge ball, and pizza and wings.  Just a fun way to get ready for the holiday.

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