Friday, October 26, 2012

Recent Traumatic Events In My Life

I just woke up and can't go back to sleep.  Last night was very traumatic.  For those that don't know I worked 22 hours yesterday.  I can't give details, but what I saw makes me really question if we, as a society, are doing enough to protect our children. 

I do the best job I can to protect the children I serve, but sometimes, things are taken out my control, and I am left to trust God.  It should be me trusting God first, but I admit I am only human and a stubborn human at best.

I sometimes wonder if what I am doing makes an impact on the children I serve.  I question at the end of the day if I had done my job with excellence.  I question if I have served God in a way that God should be served.  I question if I had honored him with the gifts he has given me and honored him for the privilege I have to step into the lives of families and take part in making what is broken whole again.

I woke up a little numb this morning.  I couldn't sleep, so I made my way into the living room.  I noticed the mail sitting on a chair and I saw a letter with my name on it.  Out of curiosity I picked it up, opened it, and pulled out the card.  The card was from my family at NorthWood Church.  It was filled with prayers and encouragement.  One of them wrote, "Do what God has called you to do, keep doing it, don't stop!"  These words particularly, mean a lot to me because they were written by a friend I share leadership with.  More than that, I really needed to hear it.  I have no intention of stopping what I am doing, but it's encouraging to hear these words and have the support I have. 

It's more encouraging to know that God knows our needs and he knows the best time to fulfill those needs.  I worship a God who loves his children.  I worship a God who, when I was a child, protected me in such an amazing way.  When CPS didn't come, he was faithful to send a Christ-filled woman to our home and tell us about the love of Jesus.  This love of Jesus changed my family, and it set the course for my destiny.  This love that God has given me, I want in every way possible, to give it to others.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  Together, we are making a difference in the world, one child at a time.  Let's press on and not give up, because God will supply all of our needs.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -Galatians 6:9

Monday, February 20, 2012

“I’m losing it!”

A brief history:

It’s important that you understand where I have been to understand what “losing it” means to me.  I have always been obese.  From the time my grandparents started raising me until now, I have had an obesity problem.  I have lost weight before when I played football in middle school, but it quickly came back in the summer.  I lost weight in high school.  I was at a healthy weight and doing right, but that didn’t last.  I quickly gained back the weight.  After I graduated I averaged at 250 pounds, but my weight soon soared dangerously.  When I was 22 I was 320 pounds!  I’m 5 feet 8 inches, so I was incredibly obese.  I remember going with a friend to the hospital to visit someone from our Church.  She had a fear of elevators, so we had to take the stairs.  I was completely embarrassed when we finally made it to the top.  I was out of breath and it was only a few floors.  I decided that I had enough, so I started lifting weights.  I got back down to 250 pounds and was eventually bench pressing the 320 pounds that I used to be.  I met my wife during that time and I stopped working out.

The past 6 years of my life have been working full-time and going to college to get my degree in Social Work.  Jodi and I moved to Fort Worth to be closer to her family and so I could finish my education at UTA.  A year after we moved here I was admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with diverticulitis.  Basically, my intestines looked like Swiss cheese and my doctor said that I would have to loose weight or die young.  It scared me, probably more than anything I had every experienced.  What would happen to Jodi and Joseph?  What about God’s promise to change my family tree?  After that incident I went to the gym every chance I had.  I eventually lost about 25 pounds and was running a 5k in 30 minutes.  I was well on my way to becoming healthy.  The only problem was, my wife wasn’t really on board with exercising and maintaining this lifestyle with me.  The Holidays came and I slowly started putting back on what I had lost.  I ballooned all the way to 275 pounds!  I thought, “My God!  Will I ever be healthy?”

Then the change started happening:

Last January Jodi and I had a serious talk about what we wanted our family to become.  We set three goals: draw closer to God, tithe faithfully every month (give also), and maintain healthy eating and exercise.  These goals didn’t come from us, they came from God.  We were all in!  We began tithing and dedicating ourselves to God’s service.  I was beginning my internship, so I was working 40+ hours a week and doing between 25-35 hours of interning every week from January until August.  Jodi was finishing up her Master’s degree in education.  We had almost everything in order.  But, we seriously couldn’t fit in a lot of exercise like we wanted.  So, we did what we could do.  We went to the gym when we had time.  We ate decently, but still not the way God wanted us to. 

Jodi began training with Laurie Graves.  Jodi started to develop a love for exercise.  In December we both walked and received degrees from UTA.  We agreed that we would make it through the Holidays and begin what God had laid on our hearts about fitness.  The month of January we worked out and ate as healthy as we knew how.  We both lost 10 pounds each!  We were so excited!  God was fulfilling what he had laid on our hearts to do!  Jodi really wanted to hire Laurie to train her, but we really couldn’t afford it.  Then at Church they announced that in February we were having a weight lose competition while doing a series on “Losing it.”  Jodi and I approached Laurie and it was decided that we would be on her team.  It was more than what I had expected God to do.  It was funny because God laid on our heart a year ago to endeavor this journey.  Shortly after we received and accepted that word in our heart, Jodi had met Laurie and started training with her.  It was all falling together like a puzzle.  I checked the mail the week we were chosen to be on Laurie’s team.  It was our giving statement from Northwood.  I got misty eyed when I opened the envelope and discovered that we had tithed each month faithfully starting in February a year ago.  Not JANUARY, but FEBRUARY!  God showed us that we were in perfect timing with his plan!  God had put some things on our hearts and he was following through with what he said he would do!  God is faithful!

So now what?

Laurie told me that she thought I would lose 25 pounds this month.  I was so excited because it took me an entire month to lose 10 pounds and I would meet that goal in two weeks.  Little did I know that God would have me lose 22 pounds in only two weeks!

Jodi and I have grown much closer throughout the “losing it” series.  We are dedicated to do everything together.  We have worked on meal plans together, we have shopped for groceries and I have given input, and yes…….I now help wash the dishes!  Jodi and I are excited about the direction God is taking us.  I can’t wait until the series is over and we are on our own living our new life together!  If I lose at least 5 pounds this week and lose 3 pounds a week thereafter, I will reach my goal weight of 175 by my 33rd birthday (July 4th)!

What I am losing:
1.     My excuses
2.     My doubt
3.     My past failures
4.     My poor health
5.     All the things that bind me from being who God created me to be!

I would personally like to thank Northwood Church for this series.  It has changed my life and allowed God to use the Church to fulfill what he had laid on our hearts.  I would also like to thank Laurie Graves.  Without your prayer, encouragement, and support, we would have never been able to do what we have done.  God has used you in a mighty way.  I would like to thank our team Brad and Dawn Zieger.  God has blessed us with awesome friends.  Thank you for your encouragement and for taking this journey with us.  You both are mighty and amazing people!  Last, but not least I would like to thank Team Fender.  You guys are amazing!  You have really given us hard competition.  Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support.  Thanks Bob for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and preaching this series.  It’s transformed us and brought us closer to Christ.  Thank you!