Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Battery Went Dead...

I am a firm believer that you form your life from small pieces of the people around you. It's funny how you start to hang around someone, and before too long, you end up talking, acting, or laughing just like them?! This can be a great thing when you surround yourself with people that are Great. When I surround myself around people like my Dad, my best friends, and people I respect, I don't mind at all taking a little piece of them and adding it to my life. It's kind of like the old saying, "you are what you eat!" I remember doing similes, idioms, and metaphors in elementary school and not understanding what that one meant!

I have had the awesome opportunity within the last year to meet some pretty cool people. Everybody always wants to meet famous people and I've had a little of that experience this year. As I look back on that, I've tried to take away the Great that they have and instill it in my life. The thing about famous people is that they are just like you and me, no different! So with this blog I'm going to list a few of the cool people that you may have heard of before that I have met...(and I admit, I wanted to brag...!)

Kelly McCorkle Parkison: Amazing Race 7. I can call her a good friend after working for her this year!
Alberto Gonzales: (Former) Attorney General of the United States.
George Hincapie: Professional Cyclist for Team Discovery.
Tim Reynolds: Best guitarist you will ever see/plays with Dave Matthews a good bit.
David James Elliot: Actor, notably on "JAG"
Kevin Costner: Actor.
John Elway: Hall of Fame Professional Football Player
Quite a few Reality TV Stars: Uchenna Agu, Joyce Agu, Chip and Kim, Ray and Deanna, Bianca, Susan and Patrick-From Amazing Race. Ruth Milliman-Survivor Exile Island.

Also within the last year or two I have gotten to see, not meet....
Sheryl Crow
Jay Leno
Kiera Knightley-
Pirates of the Caribbean
Charlize Theron- North Country, Monster, Italian Job
David Lettermen

Donny Osmond
Peter Pace-NATO General, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Tiger Woods
Gary Player

Wayne Gretzky
Cheech Marin, Gary Valentine, George Lopez, Catherine Bell, Josh Kelley, Ben Wright

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Le Tour de France

Ahhh, the Tour de France! The greatest month in the world of cyclists is always July when we sit down and finally get 3 weeks of non-stop cycling on television. We cheer for our favorite riders and teams-if your an American, probably Team Discovery (the only "American sponsored Team") and have memories of "The One" and all his splendor-Lance Armstrong. No doubt about it, it is an amazing athletic event. Cycling over 2,000 miles in 3 weeks is incredible. I really don't think you get a true appreciation for the event and/or cyclists in general until you saddle up yourself. I can attest to this, my longest ride to date is 50 miles and after the 3 and 1/2 hours in the saddle I came home ready to sleep for the next week! I have to respect the riders who ride at an average of 25 mph for 3 weeks!

Of Course I have a favorite rider...George Hincapie, super domestic of Team Discovery. He was there for all 7 of Lance's Tour wins and continues to be an extremely strong force and leader for the Team. His cool laid back demeanor makes him easy to be liked. He actually lives in Greenville-next month he is breaking ground on an "endurance community" for endurance athletes. Also during the first weekend in Se
pt. he will be in the US pro championships in Greenville defending his title. A few of the rides I go on take you right past his endurance community, and he is going to incorporate some of the rides into it. I've had the cool opportunity to see George riding around Greenville 3 times. One of which I was also on a bike and pulled up next to him at a red light on Old Buncombe road. I immediately peed in my pants, introduced myself, shook his hand, and then called all my cycling friends to tell them the news-which was about 3 people! Def, the best ride I ever had.

Alright, I know what you are thinking...Cycling is stupid...everybody is on drugs. Seems that way doesn't it? Which is a sad realization in just about every sport we cheer for and watch on a daily basis: Baseball. Check. Football. Check. Cycling. Check. Basketball. I'm going to check that one. Tennis. Check-well, maybe not tennis, but who knows! The "drugs" in cycling is referred to as "blood-doping". I'm not very familiar with exactly how its done but more or less it is drawing your blood, freezing it, and inserting it back into your body. It helps with the O2 level in your blood, making it easier for endurance athletes to perform. I'm pretty sure that is a simple definition of it.

It makes me sick to realize people, such as Hincapie, who usually finish far back in the Tour de
France may never get a shot to win it because of all the cheaters.

Also, Lance Armstrong...there's been so much debate over him, I feel bad for the guy. But he has had over 100 clean drug tests, so until something crazy comes up that says DRUGS!!! I'm supporting the guy.

I am partial to Team Discovery. Really, I have only been into cycling for about a year when my amazing girlfriend, Ashley, introduced me to the Tour. Her dad is an avid rider, and shortly after I bought my first bike and fell in love with it. ...But, Team Discovery (previously Team US Postal Service) was the home of Lance Armstrong, the greatest cyclist of all time. The awesome thing about Lance was the path. Cocky cyclist, cancer victim, cancer survivor, quitter, humbled, determined, incredibly hard worker, 7-time Tour de France Winner. (A lot of people do not know that Lance pretty much quit cycling shorty after he made his comeback after cancer.) I believe that he offers a lot for people to learn. Some of my friends and even my (amazing) Mom object to this statement.

Lance pretty much has made it clear that he is not remotely close to being or believing in Christianity. No doubt, this saddens my heart. I think if he had an outsiders look on his own life, how close to death he was, how he has been blessed, and the responsibility he has as a cancer survivor-these things could possibly change his life. It is not my belief that I should shun this man, just because he is not a Christian. I want to promote the great things that he represents.
Cancer Research, Never Giving Up, America, Hope, and Determination. And it is my prayer that while on Earth he will turn to the Lord. How much more fulfilling his life would be if this were the case. I recently made a commitment to pray for this man-prayer is a powerful thing!

I wear my Livestrong band with pride. I wear it for my family that has survived cancer, my friends that have survived cancer, and the hope that there will one day be a cure for this awful disease.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Africa, Unite!!

As many of you know, I spent July 9-19 in Kenya, Africa. And, I must say, it was the greatest week of my life. I probably could have told you it was going to be the greatest week, even before I went-and indeed....it was. It has been tough putting the experience into words. It really was an "indescribable" experience. I learned so much on this trip-I'm still trying to process it all. Isn't is amazing how you go on a trip like this to serve and help others, and you always come back seemingly more blessed yourself!

Where to start?! (See I've got a lot of pressure on me right now, My first Blog, My first Entry...I'm sweating right now, j/k)

The people of Kenya were amazing. We served at an orphanage called Tumaini (Hope in Swahili) where we farmed, built fences, and spent time with the orphans and widows. I realized one day while I was farming at Pastor Phyllis's church that it would be so hard to tell what I had seen in Africa. How would I put this beautiful, magnificent country into words? How would I be able to convince people that God was in Africa and I witnessed, saw, and experienced it for myself?

In America we always hear of Africa being a dark continent, we hear all the stats, we hear all the bad that goes on there. And there is a whole lot of it. The AIDS pandemic, starvation, malnutrition, "street children"-who do anything, ANYTHING, to survive another night. It's more than just the pot-bellied kids you see on TV...it goes beyond that to the 9 year-old who is selling her body for money to support the rest of her family, because she is the head of household. These things are hard to type, read, and hear, but they are reality on that continent.

Among all this "bad" is there any good in Africa? My answer to you is YES, YES there is!!! Our team had the opportunity to experience Kenyans who, in our eyes, would have nothing. Yet, they would praise God. They had such a genuine true faith. One that a Christian should have. They praised God during all times, and thanked Him no matter the situation. How arrogant I have become to think that I could do life on my own. I've let the things God has intended for me to use to glorify Him get in the way of His will and way for my life. He may not be asking you or I to sell all our possessions and move to a third-world country. But He is asking us to glorify Him with what he has so graciously given to us.

How have I missed that? It took seeing a people that had TRUE joy for me to realize this! And TRUE joy they had! I have never danced, sang, and praised God like I did in Kinangop, Kenya. For some reason, He was so present there, so real. Have I become so complacent in my Christianity that I forgot what true worship and fellowship feels like here in America? I guess so!

Seeing children share food, when they may not have eaten in days/ hearing Tall John Strong Hope ask us if we had eaten/ Realizing that the people of Tumaini had been praying for us months before we got there/ Witnessing David Kaiuke, a walking miracle, and a hero-go from living on the streets in Kenya, to becoming a college graduate, social worker, and man of God/ Praising the same God in Kenya, as I serve in the USA/ kicking a soccer ball around and talking about Michael Jordan/ seeing children beginning to understand how AIDS is spread (shout out to Kelly!)/ Hearing Daniel say that he was #1 in his class, and being so proud about it!/ Orphans longing for their education so they can have a way out/ Orphans saying they want to be doctors, presidents, pilots, and preachers----All of these things represent the Good in Africa. It represents the hope that the continent has.

Until this trip I simply did not realize that God was present and doing mighty things in Africa. It took listening to Bishop David Thagana who has planted countless churches in 3 or more countries. It took hearing the testimony of Charles Mulli (Father to the Fatherless). How the Lord lead his life-from being an orphan, to a millionaire, to having nothing, to creating the Mulli Children's Family Orphanage with over 1200 kids. It took seeing the other 71 members of our incredible team leaving the country never to be the same again.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. One that God has allowed to see what actually goes on in Africa. But he has also given me a big responsibility to share what I saw with the world. To somehow help others to understand this amazing continent. It's impacted my life beyond what I could have imagined, and I love it.