Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What does it mean to be called by God?

Some people say they hear voices. Others say they get the chills.
Some say they get recurring thoughts or dreams. Others say they get signs or co-incdences.
Some seek years and years in prayer and fellowship with believers and never "feel" the call of God. Others say they can "feel" His presence on a daily basis.

I'm in the belief that God works deeper than "feelings" or "co-incidences" but rather out of a relationship that we have with Him. So I guess my question should be "What is a relationship with God?" I can't explain that one. I don't even know where to start. All I can do is live it out. And try to do my best to figure out how to do that on a daily basis.

With that in mind, I'm trying to figure out if I'm getting called by God to go to Iraq. Maybe you can help me. But you'll have to read my story first. And I'll throw a couple of random pictures in just to try and confuse you :)

Me and my beautiful girlfriend Jill.
Even before I wanted to come to the US I was a die-hard basketball player. Australia doesn't have any inter - high school or university sports, but I was still training 7 days a week. "Basketball is life......the rest is just details" was my motto. However, at one of the high points of my young basketball career, at age 16, I was seriously considering giving it all up.

I was a young Christian at this point too and really didn't know what prayer was, but I decided I was going to pray about this decision. I told God I was done with basketball unless He were to give me an amazing oppurtunity to keep playing. I told Him that if that were to happen that I would do it for Him, that my basketball would be solely dedicated to glorifying his name and not my own.

About a year later I'm standing on the basketball court of Blue Valley North High School about to make an inbounds pass. There is 2500 in the stands, we are down by 1 to the 8th ranked team in the nation, with about 5 seconds left. I make the pass to Jerod and he takes it to the rack and lays it in. The crowd storms the court and there is pandemonium! We had one our first game of the season in my first basketball game in the US as an exchange student.

About a month later I realized that God had answered a prayer and that I hadn't made it to the US all by myself. You see my idea of playing basketball to glorify God was to get good enough to play in the NBA, get some popularity, and use that popularity to evangelize and spread His word.

The Fellows @ Camp Balcones Springs. You can check out our blog at

Well for the next 4 years, with that idea in mind, my basketball experience took a downward slide. I would constantly doubt God's call to have me here in the US because of the situations I had got into with basketball. A couple of bad teams and mediocre coaches later, and I had almost totally given up on the idea of going anywhere with basketball, let alone the NBA. Why would God answer a prayer, give me an amazing oppurtunity to play, and then totally crush my desire for basketball? To show how big He is? Maybe.....

This January I went to the Passion conference, a huge conference with over 25,000 college age students in attendance with a desire to see God's word be spread amongst the nations. God did some amazing things there. He impacted my life in so many ways and through so worshipful experiences. He brought me out of a huge pit and gave me a passion for His word again. I would recommend attending an event like that if you ever get the chance.

One minor thing that happened while I was there was my "free time" visit to the missions booth. I randomly ran into a guy there that was apart of a program called Infinity Sports. We started a conversation and he was telling me about a basketball mission trip they were planning later in the year and if I was interested. I said it would be tough with my schedule and new job. I gave him my email and he handed me his business card. I told him to send me all the info he could about the trip.

Lane + Brooke + Mike + Brenton = Fellows Foursome.

Fast forward three months to last Sunday. I was sitting at Brookhaven Southern Baptist Church in Dallas with my girlfriend (I know I haven't posted about her yet....she is a phenomenal woman of God and I could probably dedicate the rest of this post to her, but hopefully the picture above will suffice.). The pastor started the service off by introducing a lady that his church had supported for many years on the mission field. She was about to take off on a trip to Iraq the next day to start a journey to get involved with the Kurdish community to hopefully plugged in over there. Her talk was very emotional and heartfelt. As she talked about these people she had to pause many times to fight back her tears over the grace that God had shown her throughout her life.

As she continued to speak, she mentioned that a little sports project had been laid in her lap and that God was calling her to organize sports teams to come to Iraq and spread the gospel. The blessing, she said, was that this was not initiated by her or her company, but by the Northern Iraqi government. They intentionally wanted missionaries to come over and teach basketball to the youth. How amazing is that!!! Well, it's about time to cue the lightning bolt...

As soon as she mentioned the sports project, I remembered that the guy I had met at Passion had written a name on the back of the business card he gave me. He told me that it was the director of their program, whose headquarters were in Dallas. He said I should try to get in contact with her since I wasn't going to be too far from there.

I found the card tucked away in my wallet. The name on the back of the card was Debbie Rouse. Her home church happenned to be Brookhaven. And at that moment, she was speaking to me about her heart for missions in Iraq. I couldn't believe it. Did I just get zapped? I turned to Jill and showed the card to her. She couldn't believe it either! What just happenned?

Me, Jill and Sweetie the bird @ Caldwell Zoo
For the rest of the service I couldn't think about much else except going to talk with this lady. Jill and I were able to join in a communal prayer for her before the end of the service, and I waited around to talk to her. I told her my story and what I had just witnessed. She too was pretty taken back. "That's totally from God!" she said, "You know you're coming right?" My first thought was "No.....I don't know that I'm coming!" But I can't deny that I was a little excited that in that moment, God was doing something in my life......whatever it was.
I realized that it was going to be near on impossible for me to go. Having a full time job and a schedule that is packed tighter than my suitcase on a trip back home, I kind of downplayed the whole idea that God was calling me to go to Iraq. If I were to maintain any loyalty to my promise to Sky Ranch, it literally and logistically would be impossible.

The Fellows with Wiggy and Quint after a grand camping trip at Camp Champions

I really have no idea where this story is going to end or what I should do next. In a sense it really feels like I've been zapped by a lightning bolt and am still dazed and dizzy from the after affects. But during our leadership seminar yesterday I stumbled over a piece of wise advice:

"Get yourself involved in tasks that are impossible to accomplish unless God shows up"

This trip is not impossible for Him. My will is to be totally obedient to His call.

Is this a call for me to go to Iraq this summer?

I have no idea. But I'm not going to let it go. I've got to keep seeking and searching. I need to try and find a balance between logic and loyalty, between the discriminate and the divine. Yet I have a feeling that the balance won't neccesarily be even.

Lane, Me and Mike on my birthday @ Outback Steakhouse.

If you read this message, all I would ask that you would pray for me as I discern where God has me going in this next couple of months. Who knows, you could watch with me as God makes the impossible possible. Or maybe you'll see God put an oppurtunity in front of me and not allow me to go. Either way I'm excited that God is up to something in my life, and something BIG.

I'm excited to see what happens next. Thanks so much for reading and I hope that you would help me lift this up in prayer.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

One Frustrating Night

So I've been slack again in much is happenned, but too much to write about. This is going to be a pretty random post.

So let me reflect about one of the most frustrating nights I've had in a long time.

We had just finished a great week in Oklahoma, doing some marketing for Sky Ranch's camp site in Quapaw called Cave Springs. You could hardly call it marketing though. We were able to meet with some amazing youth pastors and deacons and just talk to them about their ministry and ask how we could help them out. By far the most gratifying and God glorifying marketing I think I could get involved in.

Craziness starts:

We started our 5 hour drive back to Texas at 8pm on a Thursday, because we all had stuff to do that weekend and wanted to get some sleep on Friday. I offered to take the first leg of driving since I hadn't done a lot that week, and was actually looking forward to getting some miles in with the van. Probably should have opted to sleep....

We started out by going to the world's largest McDonalds. Don't ask me why it is in the middle of OK on a turnpike....but it intruiged us so we went. We got friendly with the servers there and got into a bit of a conversation with them. They found out I was Australian, and like many, made several jokes about our humble little know, the usual: kangaroos, crocodiles, Steve Irwin. I never get upset or angry at these. They come so regularly, its now become kind of a challenge to anticipate which joke will come next after they get started.

For some reason that night, however, I was a little disturbed by it. Maybe its because they just started on the jokes before they even introduced themselves. Once again, this never really bothers me, but for some reason it stuck with me a little long, so I made a little effort to stall at the counter and get to know them better. I came to find out that the man that was serving me was gay, which again was no problem to me. But again, it started to really disturb me once he made a couple of borderline comments about Priscilla Queen of the Desert (an Aussie movie), and didgeridoos that made me feel like he was flirting. When we left a lady that worked at McDonald's chased us down and asked me for my phone number, which at first I laughed at (for many reasons), but it later just fuelled the distrubance that was going on in me.

As we started driving off, I just kept reflecting upon what happenned at our "little" stay at the world's largest McDonalds. This only turned my little disturbance into a lot of hatred. I can honestly say that my hatred wasn't directed in any one area; my whole emotional state just felt exactly what it feels like when you hate something. And I couldn't pin-point it at all. It got so frustrating that in a brief moment, I felt the sudden urge to have someone to pray for me. But because everyone in the van was having a fun time and joking with each other and because my heart was stirring so far in the opposite direction....i let the prayer request pass.

What happenned next can be summed up in 4 succinct statements

  • Got a speeding ticket - 73 in a 55

  • Had the headlights automatically turn off while going 65mph on a pitch black highway

  • Ran out of gas (At 12:30 am. Had to wait an hour for a wrecker to come. He wasn't happy)

  • Got home at 4am and smashed a glass candle warmer on the floor. Woke 4 people up.

Was I getting punished by God? Of course not........but it definately felt like it, at least for a brief moment. It was one of those nights where I felt incredibly like Bruce Almighty just after he drove his car into the light post at the beginning of the movie. Maybe God was trying to tell me something, but I have no idea what it was. Maybe it was just a spiritual attack, and I was caught off guard. Maybe it will just make a good story one day. Who knows. Im still baffled by that night.

But one really cool thing happenned today that God must be given ALL the glory for. I called the police department in Oklahoma to inquire about paying for the speeding ticket to get it taken off my record. I'd had a pretty hectic/stressful day up to that point and the last thing I wanted to do was get depressed about how much this ticket was going to cost to get taken off my record. I talked to an older lady whom after I inquired about the ticket asked me in a pretty gruff voice:

"How fast were you going?"

Reluctantly I told her. I asked her what my options were for taking a defensive driving course on the off chance that her gruff voice was just a mask for a heart of gold. How right I was!

"Well normally you would have to see a judge, but you've caught me in a good mood. Just sign the ticket, send in the check, and I'll ammend it for you."

PRAISE GOD!!!! I didn't know such ladies existed in a police department. I kind of feel like driving up to Oklahoma just to give her a hug! She totally made my day and made me forget about the intense morning....

Isn't it great how God works? I've been reading in Philippians how Paul, when in jail, would say stuff like: "but I know that through your prayers and help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happenned to me will turn out for my deliverance" (1:19). I wonder how a guy could remain that positive in jail. Then I realize after experiences like this, he probably wasn't. He was probably mad and frustrated just like me; but he knew, above all those emotional arrows, that God was soveriegn. That He had a plan. Even for a guy in a cell. Even for a guy who had a bad night. That's why He's my Savior.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

God Bless America

Yes....Mike is wearing postcards of Native Aussie animals taped to his shirt, to celebrate Australia Day

One thing I forgot to mention in my last blog was one of the coolest things I experienced since being here in the U.S. As many of my fellow compatriots know, January 26th is Australia Day. It is a day where many Aussies come together to celebrate the discovery of our country by our English forefathers. For Americans, it is a day that closely resembles the celebrations of 4th of July. However, on January 26th, 2007 it was definitely Australia Day at Sky Ranch.

In my 5 year stay here in the US I have done several different things on Australia Day. One year at college I made some sausage rolls and put some vegemite on toast and held an Australia Day party in the lobby of our dorm building. I hired out “Gallipoli” from blockbuster and taught some of the students how to handball a footy. It was great for me to re-live a lot of the Australian culture I had missed over the years. But this didn’t even compare to the experience I had this year, last week.

Brooke Fellows........good on ya!

I had sent out an all staff email a couple of days before informing everyone at work about the day, to which I received some really nice replies with funny jokes about kangaroos and vegemite that I had NEVER heard before! (hehehe just kidding). But I did have many questions about the day and what it was about, and most people seemed fairly interested.

I started formulating ideas in my head about what I should do to celebrate the day. I had worked out that I had enough Aussie apparel that I could get away with being a fair dinkum Aussie without owning an Australian flag. (Lucky my room mate Mike had loaned me a Boxing Kangaroo flag that his Dad had got from Perth many years ago!). With my new iPod, I figured I could walk around all day playing some Men at Work, Australian Crawl and Cold Chisel on my little speaker setup. But I was not prepared for what was to come.

Our leadership director, Dave Schlener had sent me an email saying:
“If you have any guts at all……..I mean AT ALL!!......and have any….repeat ANY…..patriotism…....and the slightest…………repeat SLIGHTEST………leadership potential……… will somehow get Mike and Todd to sing something outrageously Australian over the Sky Ranch pager”

So in fear my credibility….and employment, I went and talked to Todd about the idea. It was him that came up with the CRAZY idea that I should lead the All Staff meeting in a rousing version of the Australian National Anthem….

……to a bunch of Americans that probably don’t know ‘Land Down Under’?? Are you FOR REAL?? Still, it was a great challenge.

Notice Dave with the Aussie lingo tea-towel taped to his chest.

It really didn’t hit me until about 2 minutes before the Legacy Fellows were introduced to the staff that what I was about to do could probably be considered unpatriotic on the part of my unknowing American buddies. As I got them to stand, I tried to console them in the fact that if they just stood there awkwardly and pretended to sing that they would be like any other Aussie singing our anthem.

I had a music track that I was going to play in the background to help the process along, but due to technical difficulties, it failed to play. So now I was leading a group of Americans in a foreign anthem to which they had no music, nor any idea of a melody line.

Thoughts running through my head at this moment:
Wow Brenton, you might have a career in communist brainwashing.
What are these people ever going to think of Australians after this?
Maybe you should just stop and put on that great ‘fake’ American accent you’ve been working on, and reveal that you were born in South Dakota and have just been fooling people for 5 years!
What happened next I will probably never forget…..
Around 50 Americans from many different backgrounds, some Hispanic, all doing their best to belt out an anthem they had never heard, from a country they had probably never visited, just to make an Aussie feel welcome and proud of his country on it’s special day.

It was quite an amazing site

I can’t speak enough to how this is the heart of the people I work with. Ever since I have been here they have done nothing but make me feel a part of the Sky Ranch family. But it speaks to so much more than that…

Yeah....I'm not much of a conductor, but they sure did Australia proud

I’ve just come back to Texas from a road trip to Oklahoma, and had some time to reflect on my experience in the US up to this point. I’ve been an exchange student, a college athlete and graduate, a youth pastor, substitute teacher, Legacy Fellow among many other jobs and positions. I have been given opportunities to travel and interact with some of the most recognized, and impoverished people in the world. Yet being in America has provided me so much more than that…

At every point in my journey I have been met with heart-filled, hospitable and loving people. People, I have been blessed to consider a part of my family. The relationships I have made, and continue to make, are ones that I will not only hold in my heart forever, but will also change and mold me for the rest of my life. Yet there is still something greater at work here…

Everyone knows that the United States of America has copped a lot of flack (criticism) over the years for being many things…….(you fill the blank with the negative). But I think what a lot of the world doesn’t realize, is that the real America is not governmental structure, nor the capitalistic giant, nor the military superpower… is the people.

For so long, so many have stereotyped “Yanks” (as we would call them in Australia), as being arrogant, over-confident, know-it-alls; such a label however cannot be fitting to any corporate body. Many outsiders fail to experience the compassion of the American individual, and the culture which fosters such loyalty and respect.

Just as an example, this week I got to travel with a guy named Jim Franks. Jim is a HUGE Oklahoma University fan (physical size is irrelevant here J). He’s had to deal with a lot of jokes and puns from me the last couple of days because of his OBSESSION with Norman, OK…..home of the Sooners (their mascot, which I’ve been told I’m not allowed to say what that means because it’s somewhat offensive to the fans!?! Work that one out!). We’ve had to stop at 3 different stores at 3 different times to pick up Oklahoma Sooner apparel….once at a Sonic restaurant so he could order a “Sooner Slammer”.

Jimbo in front of his beloved Owen Field

But even after all the jokes, you have to admire a guy like Jim, and people like my roommate Mike, who is a DIE HARD “Farting” Texas Aggie Fan (If you say ‘farting’ with an Aussie accent in East Texas, they totally think you’re saying ‘fighting’!!!). Not just for their loyalty and dedication to their school, but what they stand for. They represent a deep tradition, not one rooted in conformist old-fashioned rules and rituals, but a tradition that grows and changes with each generation: The American Tradition.

Mike and I at ground level (Owen field)

Many will say that the culture and progeny of the American tradition is on a downward spiral with huge corporate companies like MTV holding the reigns. I disagree. Too many times I have seen God’s hand work through incredible individuals. I have seen the face of Christ in many American friends, colleagues and total strangers. It is so evident that God has had His hand in the tradition and culture of this country, molding it and shaping it as time progresses. Everyday, through the people I work with and the people I meet, I am confirmed and assured of this.

Yes this is a Toby Keith Resturant......yes, I had to put up with country music.......yes this could only happen in Oklahoma!

America is a great country; full of opportunity, diversity and experience. You can’t read it in a magazine or periodical, you can’t witness it from a second hand experience or foreign country. You have to get amongst the people and know them. Build a relationship with them, or in many cases, be willing to receive the instant compassion and loyalty that comes from a long standing and active tradition of Godly men and women.

I am proud to be an Australian. But I am just as proud and blessed to have experienced the American culture. To stand in a room and hear an awkward group of folks sing out your anthem on your country’s day not only shows respect on their part, but shows confidence in what they stand for.
God Bless America

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Passion '07 Reflection

The Arena

So I went to this conference over New Years called Passion '07. It was in Atlanta.....24,000 college students......worshipping and praising God for 4 days straight....enough said. I haven't really written much about it, and I don't intend too, but there were so many amazing things that God did over those four days that I'd like to write down a couple of moments when He really 'got to me'.....

One of my favorite worship artists is Chris Tomlin. I'm not such a big fan of his image, but his music is very inspiring and uplifting. In the months leading up to this conference, I had been going through a spiritual dead zone. To make a long story short.....I overloaded myself. I was doing ministry, teaching, studying and working all at once...and it was too much. So the thought of going to a huge conference with some amazing worship leaders was almost getting me excited.
I was comforted by a story during this time of a man that was asked by God to carry one rock up a hill, which upon his way picks up other people's rocks in order to help them and minister to them. Half way up the hill he is too tired and gives up and blames God for giving Him a load that he couldn't carry. God gently reminds him that all He asked him to do was carry that one rock.

I was carrying an overseas backpack full of rocks to Passion. I couldn't wait for that 'moment' in the conference where God would show up, and my load would be lightened. I had struggled 4 months of just being totally emotionless and void of passion. For ministry, for my relationship with God, and for life in general I had simply lost interest. You been there before? If you have, you know how much it sucks.

This was a bilboard that everyone had signed the year previous.

On the second night, Tomlin was leading worship. Our group had managed to get seats two rows from the front of the stage. The stadium was packed. We'd just heard a "killer" sermon from Beth-Moore on humility, and the crowd it seemed was in a state of total repentant worship. Everyone was on their feet, hands lifted high, and it was as if you could see God's spirit moving through the masses.

I was sitting down. My arm's crossed. Totally emotionless.....

I love that line in the Goo Goo Dolls song that says "And you can't fight the tears that aint coming". That was me......I was fighting for a tear....any sign of feeling.....but I got nothing.

This was supposed to be my moment. My favorite worship artist.....great speaker.....20.000 people to help me along.....but nothing. Had God just forgot about me? It sure had felt like it the last couple of months. It was almost like I'd lost the Holy Spirit.

You been there before? If you have, you know how much it SUCKS!

So after walking away from that night event and off to our community group, I was feeling my usual "God I'm angry with you, but I'm not, because my heart doesn't respond to my head any more, and I've lost every blood pumping vessel in my body!" self.

Then He REALLY got to me.

My head finally found a route to my heart. It had finally deciphered the labyrinth and reconnected the blood vessels. I had reasoned that if I was EVER going my moment with God and I was to set up the perfect conditions for it to happen, I probably would have put my self in front of Chris Tomlin with a whole bunch of people to worship why didn't it work?

Because I needed to see that my relationship with God has nothing to do with how I feel about Him.

God is so much bigger than a huge worship service.

He would keep me emotionless if it only meant my heart would turn further toward Him.....even if it is numb.

After 4 months of being emotionless......He wanted to show me He still loved me.......

.....even while I was emotionless.

My response? Total emotionlessness.......but knowing that was OK.

This week at the Ranch has been pretty exciting. We got to meet Joey Seeber, the Mayor of Tyler, TX on Wednesday and spend half a day with him. We were guests of honor at Tyler's City Council meeting and got to grill Joey for about 2 hours. It was just an awesome oppurtunity to talk to a guy that had made it and has a love for the Lord. We got to learn so much just from him telling his stories and just gained a lot of life experience from him telling his mistakes. (great English there)

I also got to meet with the college group i travelled with to the Passion conference, this weekend. It was amazing to share that experience with them, but even cooler to get to hang out with them and talk with them on a regular basis. On our way back, we all got convicted to start memorizing chapters of the bible on a regular basis. This weekend we just got done with Colossians 3, and now we're moving to James 1. It's been amazing to dedicate ourselves to memorize a whole chapter and just incredible to see how much God uses that in our lives.

This was the group that I travelled with to Passion

This week I will be travelling to Oklahoma City to go to the Gear Up Conference. They are the company under which we went to West Virginia with and did the iLead conference. It should be interesting to see what it's all about since we know nothing of what we'll be doing this week. But I'm excited...... happy to have some emotion back!

Friday, January 19, 2007

The first week......wait, have two weeks past?

Let the message that comes from Christ, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
- Colossians 3:16

Wow! What a start. I'm starting out this blog not wanting to write out everything that has happenned because it would take me a good couple of nights to write it all out, so I'll try and keep it short (HA!!!). I guess I could just say God is good and it would pretty much cover it, but I'll keep writing.

Let me start by saying, the more I get involved in this job, the more I wonder if I was the right person. I say that not just because I secretly doubt my own abilities (while putting on the "I know what I'm doing" face), but also because I am just gob smacked at the amount of oppurtunities that have been thrown our way.

The iLead conference. This was all the students and leaders.
Last weekend the Outdoor Education crew and the Legacy Fellowship (The Fellows, as we are now fondly known as), went to West Virginia on a trip to lead an iLead conference. It was set up by the West Virginian Education board for us to come in and help prepare identified 8th grade leaders to prepare for college. There's a really cool picture of us on the website at

This was my team...the Maroon team.
"Maroon Maroon Maroon. OI, OI, OI!!!!"

This trip was a huge challenge for me personally and spiritually. I was going on a trip to a new state with a bunch of people I had only met a week ago, and I have to admit the idea of getting thrown into a team leader position straight off the bat was daunting. I was definately stripped of a lot of pride on this trip, learned what it meant to be humble, and how acting like a big fool is sometimes the quickest way to get to know someone!

Zack was our flag bearer....and the best iLead Idol singer there.....regardless of the judges' decision!

Spiritually, it was a trip that stretched me. We were basically invited to hang out with a lot of kids that don't know God, or that have probably never pondered the concept of who God is, and were told that we were not to mention His name to them at all. We were only there to help lead them to college, even though our hearts wanted to lead them to Christ. I went through the whole thought process of disagreeing with the program; thinking that it musn't be Christ centered. I ended up judging a whole bunch of people based on the fact our purpose was to only teach about college, while claiming to be Christians that are supposed to 'make disciples of all nations'.

Nathan and Zack.....or the other way around ;)

Well.....just reminded me again of how imperfect I am. I was so overwhelmed by the heart of everyone I worked with. They are all so silently committed and focused on sharing their faith without making a big deal of it. It was so humbling to me: that wanted to declare loudly my love for Christ to these kids and make a name for myself, while watching the other team leaders still themselves and diligently pour out God's love onto these students.
It was also fun to stay up till 3am with them, playing "Potty on your Neighbour", and dealing out silly consequences like singing to two lonely guys in the hotel bar, with an audience of heckling co-workers. I got to know the outdoor education team so much better on this trip, as well as grow in spiritual maturity.

Lane Davis, Brooke Barbie, Mike Maguire and me. Our lasts names have all changed to "Fellows"

Now I want to talk about some incredible people. The three other people I will be working with for the entire year, as part of the Legacy Fellowship program are none other than Mike Maguire, Lane Davis and Brooke Barbie. You may not have heard of them, but you will one day. They'll probably be discipling your kids or being your boss or something like that. They are three of the most God-fearing, creative, compassionate and dedicated people I have met, and I get to work with them for a whole year!! I'm rooming with Mike and Lane, with Brooke across the hall. We've only been working together for a week and we miss the times that we are apart. I am excited when I think about them and the possibilities of us doing incredible things this year.

Jill and Clinton Pfalser.....A.K.A. Mama and Pappa Fellows

Our AMAZING leaders, Clinton and Jill Pfalser have been friends of mine for a while, but I am just so flabergasted at their willingness to invest so much in us. They are taking so much time out of their lives to feed us with oppurtunities, resources and the occaisional steaks on a Wednesday night. I have been so blessed to have them in my life, but am just so excited to see them lead us forward in this program.

The whole group with Dave Schlener and family

We are also being lead by a guy named Dave Schlener, who is a leadership guru from West Point and an international pilot with American Airlines. I cannot express how just his presence in the room brings excitement with a sense of peace. This guy is so knowledgable, yet so compassionate. So focused and determined that we are the four most important people in his life (other than his family). He is so biblical in his approach to everything it's impressive and enlightening at the same time. He has set up trips for us to take leadership seminars at West Point, as well as spend face time with American Airline system directors, university presidents, pastors, school superintendants, mayors even U.S. Congressmen in Washington D.C.!!! Not only will we meet them, but they will run us through their job for a day: let us sit in board meetings, help influence major decisions they make on a daily basis. What an incredible oppurtunities, and what a fantastic mentor to be led by. Oh did I mention we are going to Kenya for a month in August? Short side note.....
Brooke and Mike
I could go on and on about the rest of the stuff that I'm doing, but I could probably put anyone to sleep with more descriptions. So just for a break in the madness, here's some good Texas slang for those who don't know.
Make sure you read them with a strong East Texas, hick, country accent. I just learned these today. Courtesy of my roomie, Lane Davis:

"It's hotter than two mice making love in a wool sock on a hot day, Y'all"

Well, it's kinda been cold this week, so here's some good ones:

"It's colder than a witch's titty in a brass bra doing pushups in the snow!"
"It's colder than a plumber's butt wearing iron underwear!"

The guy on the right is responsible for the quotes....did I mention he wears turquoise boots?
Sorry if they sound mildly vulgar, but when Lane says them with that cowboy accent, you can hardly tell what he's saying anyway!

God is so good. We read through Genesis 1 this morning with the OE teachers, and just discussed the marvels of the Bibles first chapter. Mike brought up the point that God created humans last in the order of things, which he said, is not only humbling but also puts a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. It reveals so much of God's heart that He puts the last first, the runt of the litter as the leader, and believes that anyone can achieve anything.

I have struggled this week between balancing humility with confident leadership. I have struggled with boldly displaying my personality while remaining still enough to meet others where they are at. I have struggled with the fact that I am not good enough for this job, but that God thinks I am.

Who am I to be formed by a Creator that allows me to experience doubt and guilt and shame and humility and unworthiness, yet be loved in a way that tells me to feel loved and not oppressed. Who am I to dwell on my own faults while a Savior allows me to move mountains with my own hands.

I can't express the wonderment and awe that I feel right now at the amazing, intracate details of God's plan. That He had a well ordered, focused and diligent plan in the creation of the heavens and the earth, but that also has the same dedication in his plan for my life.

I love where I am right far from perfect.....yet so close to finding out who I am....knowing that I will always be searching for him (me).......and Him.

~Bless this week Lord....I love you with all my good and bad times.....please be with my family, I have no idea where they are or what's going on with them. Allow me the privelidge of talking with them this week. I miss them terribly. Bless our Fellowship and my friends around the world. Thank you for Your Son and what He's done for all of them. I love you Lord.~

Monday, January 08, 2007

ReNewed Life!

So put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him
- Colossians 3:10

So what an incredible start to the year it has been. I am so excited to be blogging again I am literally shaking! If you have missed me, I apologize, but I plan to be more consistent this year (one of the resolutions!).

This incredible year started with the Passion Conference; a four day Christian conference for 18-25 year olds. It was held in Atlanta and more the 24,000 students attended, rasing over $2.5 million for God's kingdom worldwide. I could literally write a book on how great the conference was, and all the stories. But my conference is best summed up in the verse above. After going through a spiritually dry spell for so long, God has been so faithful in renewing my passion for serving Him. Giving four days to seek out God was what I needed to start the year, and He has provided that so mercifully.
I was able to attend the conference with an amazing group of people. I went with the college group from Brookhaven Church in Dallas, and made some friends I will probably keep for life. With them, I was able to witness a life changing transformation in the lives of this group and mine, as God just decided to grab us by the hand, walk beside us and gently say "I'm here". Our reaction has been that over an over-excited toddler, just happy to be walking with their daddy.

I would talk more about the conference and this amazing group of people, but I want to get on to other things, like my NEW JOB!

I am officially excited to be working at Sky Ranch !!!!!(Granted, it has only been one day!) It has taken me a long time to mourn leaving Kansas and all the great people there and I am just so thankful that God has been faithful. A friend of mine said that it has taken this long to get excited because I knew what I was leaving, not knowing what I was gaining; very true. But today, I believe God has confirmed for me that I am in the right place, and for a lot of reasons.

My day started off with a meeting with Chris Witt, the executive of Sky Ranch in Van, TX. For those who don't know a lot about Sky Ranch, I learned today that it is in the top 5% of camp in the US and has grown immensly in the last 5 years. It sits on a huge piece of property (I would say 2000 acres, but I could be underestimating) which facilitates a "summer camp, outdoor education and adventure school, blobs, zip lines, horses, paintball, jet skis, super slides and much much more!" Chris told me that my position as part of the Fellowship Legacy team serves to benefit the camp and God's kingdom.
He described that my position would be like a bench player for leadership positions at the camp. I know the idea of a "bench player" doesn't sound so great, but for me I think it's just what I need. This job will allow me to be in a position where I can learn from so many, while being thrown into the mix of things at the same time. I will be involved with the Outdoor Education and Adventure program for most of my time here, serving as a teacher. But it goes far beyond that. Here is the job desciption:
The primary responsibility of the Legacy Fellowship Program is to spend (1) full-year living, learning and experiencing leadership, excellence, character, and service in a Christian Summer Camp setting through the training and supervision of the Sky Ranch full-time staff. The secondary responsibility of the Legacy Fellowship is to equip individuals for effectively applying Biblical Leadership principles to significant ministry opportunities. All Fellows will reside during that time in the Gove Leadership Lodge and will have the opportunity to work hands-on in teaching, program development, youth ministry and service, while being taken through an extensive Leadership training course lead by Sky Ranch staff. The Legacy Fellowship will experience times of direct concentration in one area or multiple areas as leadership training and Sky Ranch programs dictate. Each experience involves assisting Sky Ranch Camp with investing in the lives of youth ages five to twenty-three with the Sky Ranch Life Map. This program will incorporate at times responsibilities within marketing, sales, counselor recruiting and other areas as needed.

On the 12th the Outdoor teachers are running a camp in West Virginia at the Hyatt Hilton, for the weekend (it's in Morgantown or something like that). The weekend is called iLead, playing off the iPod phenomena, and aims to teach 8th graders how to prepare for college. While there, I will be teaching a class on how to prepare financially for college. I know some of you might be falling off your chair thinking I will be teaching elite 8th graders how to save for college. But its ok....I was given a script! But what's even funnier was the first line of my script! This is what it says:
"The United States of America is the greatest country in the world"

I laughed my head off when I read it, infront of the people I was working with. I'm so glad they appreciated the humor, with me being Australian and all. The script goes on to talk about how great America's public school and university system, and how it is so readily available and affordable to just about any American. This is true........but it was just an ironic introduction for a foriegn teacher!

Oh....I told you the camp was called iLead, because of the whole iPod thing. Well, it turns out that we will be using iPods to help run the camp, and since we would all be teachers at the conference, Sky Ranch thought it would be necessary for us to all own one.

So try to imagine the suprise on my face when I walk in to the OE (Outdoor Ed.) department for the first time, on my first day, after meeting everyone for the first time, and getting a little gift bag shoved in my hand, only to open it up and find a 30GB iPod Video in there!!!!!! I slept in half an hour, neglected my prayer time and still walk into a blessing like that......God is GOOD! Not only that, but it came with a case that has a speaker attached. Plus the gift bag has a bunch of candy in it which i was really excited about. Every OE teacher got one, and yes.....we get to keep them!

So here is me with my iPod, incase you didn't believe me....also the most materialistic picture I've ever taken.

Candid assumptions I pondered after receiving gift:

  • I bet every day will be like this!
  • I bet I'll be scrubbing toilets next week!
But enough about that.....that wasn't even the beginning to amazing day I had. Directly after the iPod party, I went and met a whole lot more people, practiced for a skit for the WV thing, and took care of some paperwork and other housekeeping stuff.

One of the things I did today was buy some insurace for my new car! And yes, that was a gift too! Pat and Mary Beth Kelley's son Darren blessed me with a 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis, this weekend while I was in Dallas. It's an old ship, but she's a good one. Here's a picture:

Suggested names for the car: The Blue Mothership, The Skyboat, The Blue Voyager....any suggestions?

I saw 2 beavers for the first time on the camp site today.....I wonder if this was one of them.

So God has just blessed me abundantly as I start this new job and new journey at Sky Ranch. I will be involved with so many new faces, places and oppurtunities. I can see how almost everything that has happenned in the last 4 months has been to equip me for this next year (thank you Connie!!!). And that God is faithfull, mercifull and always present. Whether you are excited or drained, have the spiritual low or high, get the tingling feeling in the arm or are numb to all feeling, He is there, in more ways than one.....just wait on Him and be obedient. He will show.

I am praying for you Kent.

I hope you can all keep in contact with me this way and catch up on how I am doing. I plan to be on here at least once a week, if not more. Please leave your comments and your emails....I am going to make a conscious effort to keep in touch. I miss most of you, excited to work with some of you and can't wait to see the rest of you again.