Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Living The Dream

( The view from my mexican "office," the cab of my well used and loved Toyota Tacoma, on a beautiful morning.)

Over the summer, I had a really meaningful exchange with a new friend that I made on a trip. Isaiah was one of three adult leaders with a youth group. At home, he is a graphic designer who runs his own business. He shared with me his experience working for a large design firm. While he enjoyed the nature of his work, he sometimes felt frustrated with the way business was done. After downsizing resulted in him being laid off, he started his own business. He commented that it was challenging at times, but he loved his job and what he did on his own. Running a business and doing what he loved was a true gift to him. He even managed to work his faith into the design of some products. As I listened, I was really happy for Isaiah, but my happiness quickly gave way to jealousy. Why does it always seem like somebody has a better deal? Why is it so hard for me to find my niche? I started to respond with, "Wow, it must be nice . . ." but then I caught myself.

A Conditioned Response

The truth is, the sentence I began but had the good sense not to finish was a programmed response. Since the beginning of my professional career, I don't think I was ever really happy with it. My experience was quite the opposite of Isaiah's. I really enjoyed my employers and appreciated the kind of people I worked around, but I just didn't care for the work. I became an accountant through a series of indecisions and although I was often assured I was good at my job, I never really enjoyed doing it. I struggled to keep my attention on the work and often questioned whether it challenged me in the ways I desired to be challenged. Over time, I always tried to give my best, but I just had a hard time finding joy in what I was doing. Although I had the skill set, it felt as if my personality and desires did not work with what I was doing, leaving me feeling as if I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. I made a great living and worked for wonderful people, but always found myself jealous of those around me. Whether someone I knew had a higher salary, a more fun working environment, or a more interesting job, I often found myself saying, "Wow, it must be nice to be doing what you want to do."

It Is Nice

As it turns out, it is nice. I have come to realize that I am doing exactly what I want to do right now. And more importantly, I am doing what I believe God wants me to do. It is really awesome to feel like your talents and passions are being utilized in your job. The interesting thing is that it's still not perfect. I consistently find difficulties and challenges that I sometimes do not want to deal with. Such events are different now than they were before. Rather than becoming a big source of discouragement or something that I lose sleep over, they are just part of my day. It's amazing how things change when you can find deep value and contentment with how you spend your time. The highs of my days are obviously great because they are the highs, but even the lows can be enjoyable. Sometimes it feels great to sacrifice for a cause to which I prescribe.

Several days ago, I was hanging around our apartment with Drew and he asked me how I was doing. It first crossed my mind to respond with the typical, "fine." After that, I gave it a little more thought. I told Drew that no matter what happened before or what happened in the future, I was happy with where my life was. No matter where I am led and how I feel about anything that happens in the future, I can be proud of what's happening now. Despite all of the crazy experiences and strange decisions in my life, right now I am surrounded by a tremendous group of people. With them, I am doing all I can to build homes for people that don't have them, educate Americans on poverty and share my testimony. I know that life doesn't revolve around what you do and not everyone gets a situation as amazing as mine. This time may be fleeting. Regardless, I am here now. Thanks for bringing these thoughts to the forefront of my mind, Isaiah. This is a profound gift and I will do my best to serve, grow and cherish every moment of it.



Monday, September 20, 2010

New Addition

Two weeks ago, I had to say goodbye to a very important part of my life. I shared with you the history that SI 2.0 and I had together. While our time was brief, under a year, she quickly captured my heart and imagination through some incredible adventures together. It was wonderful to be able to share more about her and the time we had together with you. There was only one thing I didn't share with you on that day. I had already met someone new.

A New Bike in My Life

You see, despite all of their obnoxious branding, Trek Bicycles sells awesome bikes and does great business. A clear indication of these characteristics is how nicely they handled my cracked frame. I brought SI 2.0 to the local Trek Superstore and showed them the crack. They quickly filed a warrantee claim and had something new headed my way. I really appreciate Trek for standing behind their product. There is no way I could have afforded to replace my broken frame. That said, when I brought SI 2.0 to her final resting place, there was already someone new waiting for me there. There she was in an unassuming box, sitting on the floor of the shop area. Without even seeing her or making her acquaintance, I already knew her name: SI 3.0. As I removed her from the box, I immediately noticed she was clad in white, a daring and disrespectful choice to be sure, as I was saying goodbye to SI 2.0. I looked back and forth, in surprise at SI 3.0 and longingly at the worn, used, carbon and teal paint of SI 2.0. I was upset by my loss, but I knew that I had to leave SI 2.0 there at the shop, lest her damaged headtube cause a catostrophic accident in the future.

Don't Judge Me

Several days later, I returned to the Trek Superstore. The mechanics there had removed all of the parts from SI 2.0 and replaced them on SI 3.0. It saddened me to think of SI 2.0 broken and stripped bare, possibly thrown in the trash somewhere. That said, SI 3.0 looked hot. The white color she wore was more brash than the presentation of SI 2.0, and the way that my pink crankset completely clashed with her white and red colorway only added to her in your face attitude, much like a female version of Hansel. Being SI 2.0's younger sister, all of SI 2.0's components fit perfectly on her. I had to admit despite my misgivings, I had met a younger, snappier, less worn version of my old companion. In addition, there was nothing I could do to get SI 2.0 back. She was damaged and no longer usable. I accepted SI 3.0 from the mechanic and took her over to the buru to get her home.

(Here, SI 3.0 sits in front of the buru. I won't lie, the buru expressed extreme displeasure with the fact that I was already bringing someone new around, but supported us nonetheless.)

Together, the buru and I took SI 3.0 home so that we could make sure she was properly adjusted, hoping to take her out on some trails and get to know her better in the not too distant future.

Our Relationship Thus Far

Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks have remained busy and for much of that time, my leg remained sore, so I have only gotten to ride SI 3.0 once. On that one ride she performed admirably, and by admirably I mean pretty much exactly like SI 2.0. Let's be honest, she was built exactly like Superfly 2.0, so the ride is exactly the same. For the way things have worked out there, I am very pleased. In other areas, our relationship has been a little more rocky. Since she insists on wearing white all the time, SI 3.0 has proven to be a lot more high maintenance. In order to keep looking so flashy, she has to be constant cleaned and tended to. This is not the only area in which she requires additional attention. SI 2.0 understood, perhaps better than I did, that she was just a bike. She sat quietly leaned against the wall or clamped into my work stand when not in use. She understood that I have a busy life and just moved into a new place and that I sometimes wouldn't be able to take her out as often as we both liked. SI 3.0 is just the opposite. She incessantly complains when she is not in use. She always reminds me that she is more at home on a trail than leaning against the wall in the living room. I try to tell her that I would like to be riding more too, but my claims fall on deaf handlebars. In addition, she doesn't always take care of me the way SI 2.0 did. The one time we did go out for a ride, she didn't make me an after ride snack. This was something SI 2.0 always thoughfully did. I'm not ready to give up on her, as some of this is probably my fault. Whether spoken aloud, or simply considered in my mind, I am constantly comparing her to SI 2.0. I miss her teal and the way it went great with my pink crankset. I still have every right to miss her because it's only been a few weeks, right? The fact is, SI 2.0 was broken and I needed a new frame, but maybe I did move on too fast. Wherever she is, I just hope SI 2.0 understands.



Thursday, September 16, 2010


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow
- The Grateful Dead

Amor has a really unique way of deciding what kind of work it does to assist the Mexican people. Years ago, the organization saw a need to have local people involved in the decision making for what we do. This has helped avoid the classic problem that occurs when a foreign entity comes intending to assist a people but really ends up forcing it's own agenda and culture on the people it is trying to help. As a result, a group we refer to as the Mexican Pastors Board was formed. The Mexican Pastors Board is a team of local pastors that live, work and conduct their ministry in the areas of Mexico where we are involved. Everything we do, including building homes, distributing water filters and giving other aid, is directed by the pastors. They meet and decide who is in most desperate need of a home and where our assistance is needed most. Ultimately, we carry out their vision for local communities. I love this way of doing things. It is a beautifully designed way for our ministry to work. Because I find it to be the most effective way to carry out our ministry, I never anticipated one challenge this selection process presents.

Most of the time, when I take a group to a site to build a home, we find a small ramshackle building, gutted out truck or some other minimal shelter in which the family has been living, but this is not always the case. Occasionally, we will come across a larger, more solid structure, sometimes one that appears to meet the family's needs. This inevitably leads to questions from our participants that have come to build. "Why did you choose this family for a home?," "What's wrong with the house they are living in?," and "Why do they need another house?" are some of the main questions I have to answer. Initially, I was entirely unprepared to field these inquiries, but the first emotion I felt was anger. While I saw the same scene as the participants and sometimes had the same questions, I was blown away that people could come from a place of such abundance and make quick judgments on the needs in Mexico. It was also frustrating because I didn't feel like I had a great answer. I didn't yet know about the Mexican pastors' role in 0ur ministry and even I wondered how we sometimes selected the people who would receive aid. Gradually, I grew to understand and react better. I realized that people were leaving their comfort zone to come down to help Mexican families and wanted to feel like they were making a significant difference. I also learned more about how the Mexican pastors worked within our ministry. I felt I was prepared to handle these tough questions.

My new strategy was to pass the buck. When asked why we were building a home for a particular family, I responded by putting the responsibility on our pastors. If groups seemed unhappy because they felt the need was not desperate enough where they were working, I simply told them we didn't pick who got the homes. I informed them that it was the local pastors who identified needs, we simply came to help where they directed us. I also assured them that the pastors had a better understanding of the needs in the area than we could ever have and that they put us where we should be. Sometimes people responded well to this, but sometimes they didn't. When the visible evidence in front of them led to the conclusion that there might not be a strong need, assurance that the pastors knew what they were doing sometimes wasn't enough.

As the summer went on, I learned a lot through studying and observing the people I worked with and the communities I worked in. I began to see that it wasn't just the families we were building for that were being affected. Neighbors and passersby saw what we were doing and were intrigued by a bunch of funny looking and strangely acting gringos that were building homes by hand. Participants forged bonds with each other, the people for which we were building homes and Christ. Cultural barriers were broken down. It began to realize that the decision making process for what we did didn't start with our Mexican Pastors' board. The work we do is divinely inspired and has far reaching implications in the hearts, minds and souls of everyone we come in contact with. This really hit home for me when Howie, a long time field specialist and former monk who works for Amor, was in the field with me one day. While sharing with one of my groups, he mentioned the Nicene Creed, a creed I had recited many times while consistently attending Catholic Church over a year or two. The Nicene Creed starts with the following lines:

I believe in God the Father
Maker of heaven and earth
Of all that is seen and unseen

Although I had said these words a hundred times, I never fully considered the ramifications of the third line until Howie was sharing with us. This doesn't just refer to a spiritual realm that is around us. It refers to all the tangible things that happen that we can not see as a result of what we do. There is an unseen portion to all of our lives that is in reality much larger than the part we do get to witness As I type these words I wonder about the eyes that will see them and the minds that will consider them. Whether you build a house, write a blog, prepare taxes, brew coffee at Starbucks (Ryan Bros. is better) or simply hold a door for someone on the way into the post office, you are making an impact. When you think about all of the people you affect through subtle interactions and gestures, it is easy to know that the "seen" portion of your life is just a grain of sand in comparison to the beach that is the "unseen." Now my answer to why we build a house where we do has gotten simple. Because God wants it there and the affect it will have goes far beyond anything we can observe.

(Our lives are powerful, flowing rivers, with many streams and tributaries that branch out and cause growth and change in the environment around them.)

Whether or not you have professed the Nicene Creed or subscribe to Christian faith, the truth of the unseen in our lives is inescapable. We are presented with opportunities to influence the understanding, countenance and emotions of others nearly every waking moment. The responsibility of using these opportunities to affect positive change is staggering. Do you consider this truth in everything you do? I don't. I often allow my selfish goals and emotions to determine the way I live rather than considering the great unseen and the fact that the story of my life is infinitely larger than the narrative I observe. I want the testament of my life to be one that inspires love and hope despite my broken, human state. Living for others with this knowledge and responsibility is intimidating, but I know that the strength to do it does not come from me, it simply dwells in me.

Let it be known
There is a fountain
That was not made
By the hands of man.



Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dealing with Disappointment

Updated 9/13/2010 9:09 am PST: There were a couple ideas I forgot to put in yesterday, so I added them today!

Despite having an incredible job and great friends in my new home. I have had a good deal of disappointment to deal with lately. The transition here was tough in a lot of ways and recently, I have had a series of situations that have ranged from mildly annoying to heartbreaking. For the sake of not driving you and me into a deep depression, we will focus almost solely on this week. First off, I have been dealing with a chronic injury that began about three weeks ago. I suffered a pretty serious quadriceps pull while losing at indoor soccer. I had gotten into a pretty good routine of running and riding my bikes here and was feeling good about it and this pull laid me up for a solid week and half. Even since that time, I have gotten to start exercising again, but I have to be very careful and can never put in 100% effort for fear of further injury. Having my progress interrupted has been discouraging. Next, I had to say goodbye to the beautiful S/I 2.0. As if this wasn't bad enough, I had to witness this heartbreaker in the same day. Then, on my first run since my injury, I took off a little later than usual, and ended up running in the dark. Not a big deal until my apartment key fell out of my arm strap and I was unable to find it, thus leaving me locked out of my apartment with no phone to call for help. Finally, the week was wrapped up with and awful, ugly, poo smelling bow with this disaster. I thought I said I wasn't going to get us depressed. I need a prozac.

Given this clearly traumatic and heartbreaking week, the likes of which I'm sure most of you have never had to confront, I came up with some coping mechanisms to deal with disappointment. I can't guarantee that these will always help you in your situation, all I can guarantee is that these were the ideas I came up with in a matter of minutes when I determined that my post today would be rather irreverent. Seriously, though, give them a try. Who knows? They might work.

1. Pretend whatever happened that upset you, never really happened at all. I employed this strategy most successfully following a Virginia Tech game that didn't happen in 2007. We were not completely embarrassed in a season opening game against LSU. I was not distraught and at a loss for what to do for several weeks afterward. I have no recollection of any of these things happening therefore they did not happen. It was all fabricated. Any game footage you try to use to prove otherwise was clearly doctored.

2. Do Something really sweet to get your mind off things. Eating something really sweet helps, too. For example, following the Boise State loss, I went to a baseball game. Not that special. Until I saw Heath Bell's (The Padres' Closer) entrance. I was speechless. Actually, I had a lot to say, as I am rarely speechless. I understand if you've never been to a Padres game and don't understand the Heath Bell phenomenon. My strong advice is if you live in the San Diego area or visit, do not miss seeing Heath close for the Padres. Incredible. Next, we were treated to a postgame fireworks spectacular at Petco Park. There is nothing more spectacular and Amurrican than a fireworks spectacular. Except for maybe frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt with fresh strawberries and kiwi and dark chocolate chips. Which I ate after the fireworks. Spectacular. Potentially horrible night salvaged. Mission accomplished.

3. Visit the Flavins. So, Thursday night I was locked out of my apartment with no cell phone, nowhere to go and my roommate possibly not coming home that night. What did I do? Naturally, I imposed upon the hospitality of fairly new friends that think I'm kind of weird. You would think the same if I came to your door all sweaty in my running getup that always includes a bandana and flourescent green shoes. (Best. Running. Shoes. Ever.) I've worked with the Flavins at Amor and they are absolutely awesome people. I have been quoted in the office as saying I'm not sure which of them I have a bigger crush on. You might think this is strange. I maintain it is not, as you have no idea how cool the Flavins are. They let me hang out at their place for a couple of hours and even offered me a bed in the event that I wasn't able to get in touch with my roommate, Drew. The bad news for the Flavins: They just moved down the street from me a couple of weeks ago and I have already shown up at their door needing a favor. Good luck, Flavins, I'm sorry you found such a great apartment that was so close to me.

4. Both of our losses are out of conference, so we can still win the ACC and get a decent bowl game, right? Right

5. If the bummer you're dealing with involves a loss, replace whatever it is that you lost. This works well for two reasons. First, you now have that thing that you lost. That's really what replacing something is, look it up, it works out great. Second, the new thing that you get will be newer and shinier than that old thing you lost. I love new, shiny stuff. You'll probably forget all about that old thing. I think most people do. More on the specific application of this mechanism to my life in a later post.

6. Have a Tasty Beer. Hey, it is what it is. Please skip this step if you are under 21 and refer to the next step instead (The next step still applies to adults as well.)

7. Have some s'mores. I cannot put enough emphasis on the fact that if you eat just one, it is not a s'more. S'more stands for "some more." Don't worry about the calories, just crush as many of these things as you can until your stomach hurts. Remember, graham crackers are good for you, you're supposed to have chocolate daily, and marshmallows are made of nothing but clouds. Delicious, wonderful clouds that brown slightly when you put them over a flame. S'mores are the best over a campfire, but if you don't have a campfire you can still eat them. Cook them over a gas stove. If you don't have a gas stove, use a large lighter. It will be worth it. I could write a whole post on s'mores. Maybe I will.

8. When life gives you lemons, just trash the lemons and bail. Noone wanted fresh squeezed lemonade. Country Time is just fine. Your time is too valuable to be spent squeezing lemons. Go do something fun. Go for a bike ride.

9. Go for a bike ride. I understand that not everyone likes riding bikes, but you should. They're great. You can use them to get from point a to point b without using fossil fuels. They are super fun to just ride for recreation. There are many different types. Types for riding on the road, types for trails, I even heard they're working on some flying ones. It's true. Find one that works for you. Ride it. You will have fun. If you don't, it's because you did it wrong.

10. Complain incessantly to friends. Misery loves company. That's what friends are for. They surely won't grow tired of you and stop hanging out with you.

11. Do not, under any circumstances, listen to Glycerine by Bush. While beautifully performed and written, this song can send you to a dark, dark place in a hurry. For me, that place is often the rejection I felt as I was passed over by so many young ladies in middle school. It is like P12 Sandpaper for emotional wounds.

12. Grow a beard. Beards are awesome. They are great for so many things. They cover up your ugly mug. They catch food so that it can be enjoyed at a later date. When they get crazy long, they serve as a conversation piece. They also preoccupy you with constant thoughts of whether they have gotten to the point where they just need to be shaved or not. I love mine because I think I look like a Mexican pirate. Many ladies think that this step doesn't apply to them, but their are hormones that can take care of your inability to grow a beard, so you have no excuse. Beards and bikes are dragonsauce.

13. Be thankful for what you've got. Oooh, I'm getting serious on you with this one. After a long time of thinking the opposite, I'm learning that life is about what you have, not what you don't. I would wager that noone reading this blog will go without food or a roof over your head tonight. Chances are, you were born in the U.S. with a tremendous amount of opportunity to be provided for and provide for yourself. You did nothing to deserve this, you are blessed. I'm willing to bet you've got a couple of friends that will put up with you using #9. If you've got a little faith to top it all off, then you've got about all you need. Even if your alma mater is terrible at football this year. Give thanks.

Got anymore ideas for legitimate or hilarious coping mechanisms in the face of disaster? Give me a call or leave a comment below. I would learn them.

*Beard Update*

I have not cut my hair since I left Virginia. I have not shaved my goatee since mid June. I have not shaved the rest of my face in about three or four weeks. This is the result. I've gone native and we're going to see how long this lasts. This may or may not become a regular feature of the blog.

(I know.)



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

R.I.P. SI 2.0

The many parts that made up Superfly Interrobang 2.0 were likely manufactured in Taiwan and various other Asian countries with a cheap labor force. Once these parts were inexpensively but painstakingly manufactured, it can be assumed that SI 2.0 was assembled by Trek somewhere in the U.S., possibly at their hub in Madison, WI. It was here that she began her life as a Gary Fisher Superfly. Unfortunately, her life had a rather unceremonious beginning. Following a 2008 model year in which Superflys flew off the shelves, there were some changes. For 2009, Trek (Owner of the Gary Fisher Brand) raised the price of the Superfly and increased production, hoping to both meet demand and increase profit margin. This resulted in the failure of many of these beautiful bikes to sell. This particular Superfly was among the ones that slipped through the cracks and remained in the warehouse unwanted and unpurchased. Soon, desperate to find homes for sad, lonely Superflys everywhere, Trek put the remaining stock on clearance. This was where this Superfly's fate began to change. Curtis Prosser, one of the owners and managers of Haymarket Bicycles, informed me of this clearance. Although another new bike was the last thing I needed, my heart went out to this unwanted, unloved Superfly (and I like new stuff). Given a price that was tough to refuse, I parted with my old race steed, the Joker, in order to afford the much sought after Superfly.

(The Joker was a beautiful, well loved race bike with every part chosen to my exact specification. Unfortunately, it was not carbon and did not have 29" wheels, so it was sold. I miss it.)

(This is a stock Gary Fisher Superfly. Not nearly as purple and visually arresting as the Joker, but it has larger 29" wheels as opposed to standard 26" mountain bike wheels. Also, it is light, made of carbon and dead sexy.)

The Superfly and I felt an instant connection. Her bigger wheels and lighter, stiffer frame helped her to roll over logs and large rocks better than any bike I had ever ridden, while maintaining quick acceleration and climbing ability. As time went on and our relationship grew, I knew it was time to give this stock Superfly a new name to make her feel loved and reflect the mystery of her unparalleled awesomeness. Thus, she was named Interrobang. Interrobang and I had many adventures and a healthy relationship. We traveled throughout Virginia and Pennsylvania together to find and tame any available singletrack. When it was time for me to head to California to work for Amor, SI pledged her unwavering support and accompanied me on the journey here. Because of SI's willingness to support this life change, we were able to spend some very valuable, wonderful time together. We explored the trails around Colorado Springs, Co, enjoying flowing trails and wonderful views of the city.

(Exploring the roads, trails and mountains around Colorado Springs.)

We also spent time together in Moab, perhaps the highlight of our relationship. We enjoyed the world famous slickrock trail together as part of a 2 day stay that included three tremendous rides.

(The world famous slickrock trail, a must for any mountain biker that can make the trip. Shrimp Rock, beautiful snow capped mountains and red slick rock can be seen in this photo.)

(SI was always a lover of nature, here she takes a break from a ride in Moab to observe a beautiful desert flower.)

Although we didn't get to ride, we also enjoyed the incredible views of Lake Tahoe together. This trip across the U.S. did not come without it's challenges, though. We did have to travel through Kansas, where SI was blown about on her rack with impunity. We also had to travel on the relentless highways of Nevada. Finally, as a result of a mistake I made during our travels, SI was grievously injured. This was perhaps the low point in our relationship. Because I had so much going on both time wise and financially during my first three months in California, SI sat damaged and unused. Despite this dark time, I was soon able to repair her with new wheels and an improved, pink crankset, therefore making her SI 2.0. After putting so much work and thought into restoring our relationship, SI 2.0 quickly forgave me for the months of neglect, displaying her characteristic grace. We quickly resumed our relationship where it had left off, exploring unknown areas and forming a closer more intimate bond. Together, we found new trails in the San Diego area, Mexico and even completed a 50 mile Sunday ride, despite my lack of conditioning. Sadly, this ride would be our last. After that beautiful adventure was finished, I noticed a small crack in the head tube of SI 2.0.

(Just below the G2 decal, you can see a hairline crack in SI 2.0's headtube. If made worse with wear, it could cause me grievous injury.)

There is a chance this crack could just be cosmetic, but given the risk that it could give way and cause a catostrophic crash, the bike had to be put down. This was a painful decision for me. SI 2.0 and I have grown so close in such a brief time. Despite our love for one another, her biggest responsibility is to support my weight while riding down rocky descents at high speeds. Given that she can no longer be counted on to fulfill this responsibility, I had to make the hard call. Yesterday, SI 2.0's frame was sent to that great singletrack in the sky. She is survived by Sram X-O componentry, fox fork, bontrager RXL wheelset, seatpost, handlebars and stem, Truvativ noir crankset, Selle Italia saddle, Avid juicy ultimate brakes and me. We all ask that she be remembered for her adventurous spirit, love of the outdoors, unwavering support and sweet teal color scheme. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to http://www.amor.org/. It is what she would have wanted.




Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Job

You may be sitting at your computer, with your iphone, droid or other portable interwebs device at this moment in disbelief. "Wait a minute, what? I thought you just got a new job that you loved, spoke highly of and were thankful for!" Wrong. I had an internship that I loved, spoke highly of and was thankful for.

When Good Gets Better

As most of you know (I'm estimating "most" of the readers of this blog equates to about nine people), I started as a year-long intern with Amor Ministries on May 11, 2010. My internship with Amor was designed to focus around field work. I sometimes work in the office, but the biggest reason that I am here is to take groups down to Mexico and help them to build houses for those that need them. As soon as I got to the office at Amor, I began to feel very comfortable. It is a place full of brilliant, compassionate people that are driven to serve God, one another and those in need. Before I even got to head into the field, I was feeling very happy with my decision to come work for Amor. Once I got into the field to do the type of work I was planning on, I was even more pleased. The only element that really bothered me about working at Amor was my impending departure. As silly as it sounds, within a couple of weeks of starting it, I was already worried about my internship coming to an end on May 10, 2011. While I was certainly looking forward to coming back home to Virginia, I dreaded the idea of leaving the people here and also felt unsettled by the uncertainty that would accompany another job search and career change. Despite these concerns, I quickly started to see a plan at work. First, my roommate (Drew), who is a field specialist at Amor, decided to resign from his position at the end of the summer. I knew that this would most likely leave an opening in the near future. Next, an e-mail was sent out to current Amor staff, interns and volunteers that there was an internal opening. This was a very tough time for me. I have felt very at home here, but the thought of leaving my home and so much of what I love in Virginia for an indeterminate amount of time was hard. After some difficult prayer and consideration, I decided to apply for the internal opening. By mid July, I was interviewing for the position. Within several days of my interview I was informed that I had gotten the job. Again, I met this information with mixed emotions. If you had informed me six months earlier that I would have a full time position with Amor Ministries, I would have jumped through the roof. Coming to the realization that I would have to make massive sacrifices of a long term nature tempered my joy. Even so, I was comforted because I could still see a plan at work. Something of a temporary nature had taken me away from my home. If I had known that I was leaving for a longer period of time, this might not have happened. Once I was lured here for a short time, this wonderful opportunity was opened up for me. In short, I was given the chance to transition into leaving my home rather than being forced to jump in with both feet immediately. The result is that I wil continue to work, learn and have relationships here at Amor. The only thing that could have made this job better, knowing that it would not have to come to an end, was given to me.

The Aftermath

I became a full time field representative with Amor on September 1. There will be a lot of change in my life as a result of my decision to stay with Amor. It appears that for the time being, I will remain in California, rather than return to the best state in the nation. I will have to give up the ambitions that go along with having a business or corporately related career. The nature of my relationships with people back home will certainly change. A lot of my priorities are being forced to change. In spite, and perhaps as a result of some of these difficulties and sacrifices, I am receiving numerous blessings. I am making incredible friends and finding tremendous support here. I am getting to see God at work in me and all around me on a daily basis. In addition, I believe I am starting to see an awesome plan for my life laid in front of me. This is a terribly exciting time.

What You Can Do

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I feel confident that I am exactly where I should be in my life. Despite this fact, I deal daily with some pretty staggering changes and sacrifices. Having this position offered to me served as strong affirmation from people I have quickly grown to appreciate and confirmation that I am where I should be. Even so, continued encouragement and affirmation will help me through challenging times right now. Donate. It is not critical to my financial well-being anymore, but I will continue to fundraise for Amor. I will soon add a link to this site that will direct you to donate to Amor. Please give as you feel led. This is an awesome organization that does incredible work. Keep following along with me and encourage other people to check out this site as well. I don't see myself running out of things to talk about any time soon. I have gotten some awesome feedback from people reading this blog, and that is what makes writing it truly worthwhile. Finally, if you feel led to take a leap of faith in your life, do it. Do not hesitate. Do not be pragmatic. Be faithful and courageous. There will be tough moments, but it will be worth the struggle.