Thursday, November 29, 2012

2013? We will see...

I know many of you are wondering is there gonna be a 2013, I mean the Mayan Calendar ends on Dec. 21st 2012, yes there is going to be a 2013.  With that being established there are a lot of great things to look forward to for 2013.  I would to share with you just a couple of those as we look forward to 2013:

Music
1.  Ra Ra Riot - Beta Love
2.  One Republic - Native
3. Foster the People - TBA
4. The Black Keys - TBA
5. Jimmy Eat World - TBA

Movies
1. Gangster Squad - Jan. 11th
2. The Hunger Games - Catching Fire - Nov. 22nd
3. Man of Steel - June 14th
4. Oz: The Great & Powerful - March 8th
5. The Great Gatsby - May 10th

Books
1. Jesus is _____? - Judah Smith
2. Follow Me - David Platt
3. Who do you think you are? - Mark Driscoll
4. Risk is Right - John Piper
5. What We Talk about When we Talk about God - Rob Bell

These are just a couple of the things that I am looking forward to for 2013, not to mention the fact that I get to celebrate my first year of marriage with my wife, we will celebrate our first year in Michigan as well as my first year work anniversary.  It is going to be yet another monumental year in 2013 for the Tod Family and I can't wait to get started.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

That Time of Year...

Yes, once again it is the holiday season and if you have been paying attention, the radio stations have started to play Christmas music, the department stores have been selling their overpriced artificial trees, & black friday came and went.  It is a great time of the year not only because it is an excuse to ask for things that none of us really need, but it is a great time to be with family.

This year is my first Christmas with my new family, which is made of up of my beautiful wife Jenny & our little puppy Indie.  We are spending this Christmas in the great state of Michigan at our home and it is a wonderful time.  There are a couple of things that really make this time of year great for us and I would like to share those with you:

                     Decorating the Home
                     Buying Christmas Sweaters
                     Taking Pictures together in the snow
                     Watching Christmas Movies (Elf, Home Alone)
                     Decorating Cookies
                     Drinking Egg Nog
                     Buying stocking stuffers for each other
                     Watching All the Office Christmas Episodes on Christmas Eve
                     Opening one Present on Christmas Eve (New Tradition)
                     Spoiling Each other with things
                     Eating as much holiday themed food as possible
                     Layering Clothes
                     Drinking some great Holiday Grogg Coffee

These are just a couple of the things that I look forward to this time of year and I am so excited to be spending this Christmas with my beautiful wife and making new traditions each year.  It truly is a wonderful time of the year and I am so happy to have the family I do to spend it with.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Monday, November 5, 2012

On my Chest...

The expression of "wearing your heart on your chest" is something I had never really thought of till this moment.  I would like to think of it in a little different way.  I think that God does call us to truly wear our love of Christ on our chest, but I think that God lays others things on our heart that he would like to be included when people look at us.  Most recently (besides everything else I have written about tonight) God has put on my heart the idea that we are disciples of Christ and that we have a job to do.  But even outside of the fact that we have a job to do, Jesus has faith that we can do this job.  He merely calls us to take up our cross, deny our own selfish ambitions, and follow him.  Truly do what a disciple is which is be more like Christ (our rabbi) and follow him.

God is put it on my heart so much that I did not even realize it until I entitled an entire sermon series, "Going all in" challenging our students to have Bold Faith, Bold Obedience, & Bold Sacrifice.  Little did I know God was going to talk directly to me in the midst of me talking to a group of 50 students on a weekly basis.  I did not realize that he would be challenging me to truly think about the decision I have made with my life and will make with the rest of my life and ask am I denying myself and follow Christ or am I letting my crosses weigh me down?  How are the decision I am making leading me closer to Christ and making me more like my rabbi.

If all we are called to do in this life is to love Christ and make him known, that is what I want all of my future decisions to display.  I want people to look at my heart that is surely on my sleeve and see that it is stamped by Christ.  I have a tattoo on my chest that is a price tag that is stamped with the word PAID.  I did not do this to look cool or get an awesome Christian tattoo, instead I did this to remind myself that no matter what I do or have done my life has been paid by the blood of Christ.  In response to that, what else can I do but follow the man that saved my life as close as possible.  

Following my own selfish ambitions are merely the things that led Jesus to his death on the cross, so I am going to do all I can do to throw those down, turn around, and follow my savior, my christ, my sacrificial lamb.

That is what I wear on my sleeve.  I wear a heart that has a stamp of payment on it and I have decided in order to glorify the man/God that saved my life, I am going to follow him with all everything that I have.



till another day,



normallyINDIE

Someday...

We were in staff meeting today at Twin Oaks CC and for the past couple of months we have been working through the book, "Hole in the Gospel" which tells the story of the directer of World Vision, how God called him into that position, and what God is calling his church to do to serve the poor.  It is a great book that really brings to light what seems to always stay in the shadows.  But this is not yet another book review.  This is instead a story about what I hope to be Someday.

Our pastor at Twin Oaks has challenged us recently with the idea of Generosity and as someone who has been around the church for much time, I understand that each church does a series on money, giving, and what to do with it.  Sometimes I have found myself to be desensitized to this because I have heard these messages so many times.  But for some reason God grabbed my wife and I and said it is time to listen up.

He has not only brought to light the fact that we, as humans, have the cure to AIDS, water deprivation, malnutrition, poverty.  This cure can be found in our bank accounts.  But I did not feel that God said it is time for you to write a check, I mean he is probably calling us to do that, but much more he is calling us to change our attitudes.  Change our attitude when it comes to money and possessions all together.

I have had a couple people in my life that I just feel exude God and what I feel like Jesus would be like.    It all began with having a nature of a servant.  Not just going on a mission trip here and there, but truly putting all others in this world ahead of their own needs.  This means finances are included.  Instead of thinking about how I am going to buy a new iPhone or how I am going to go on a vacation with my beautiful wife (both are much deserved), I would love to get to the point when I say how are we gonna pay for rent because we have spent all of our money helping our friends, family, or people that we may not even know.  I do not think God is calling us to be irresponsible, I merely think God is asking us to change our attitude when it comes to money and taking care of ourselves.

He is asking us to truly say that all these things on this earth are rentals from him and we should never worry that we will be taken care of because we have always been taken care of, not because of anything we have done, but all because of Jesus.

I am not at that point in my relationship with Christ, but I hope that my wife and I can take the steps that we need to start to be more like him in this way.  I hope that i can think of others first when I am paying the bills and how my money (not my excess) can go to help someone else.



till another day,



normallyINDIE

"Greater" by Steven Furtick, Book Review

If any of you have paid attention lately to the Ministry world, you have probably heard of the Elevation Church in North Carolina (if I am not mistaken).  He started that church after many years of dreaming, hoping, questioning, and trusting God.  Just 6 years later he is worshipping with 10,000 believers from the area, not to mention millions around the world through their digital footprint.  It is so exciting to see a guy that is committed to the call God has given him to do some amazing things including ministering to a church he attends as well as to the people that are listening, reading, and watching him speak.

A couple of years ago he released a book called, "Sun Stand Still" that challenged its' readers to believe like Joshua did when he asked the sun to literally stand still.  The amazing thing in that story is that God came through, supernaturally.  He challenged me to personally start challenging God to answer supernatural prayers that if they were answered could only be pointed back to him.  This book changed the way I thought about the idea of dreaming, prayer, and a passionate relationship with God.

Most recently, Steven Furtick released a second book entitled "Greater", this time challenging his readers to realize that their life is and will be greater than they could ever imagine if they merely obeyed, sacrificed, and faith in the fact that God has called them to do something.

Beside the fact that his writing style makes it easy for even a new believer to get engaged, it is a book that does not leave you thinking that you have it all figured out.  It does the exact opposite.  As you will see in the next two blog posts, this book challenged me to rethink what I am doing in my life.  It made me ask the question, "How am I leading my students that God has blessed me to minister to live a much greater life?"  This book challenged me to question how I am living my life today.  Am I really living the greater life God has called me to?  Where will I be in 50 years and at that point will I feel that I truly capitalized on all that God has given me?  Will Jesus say come join me in paradise good and faithful servant?

These are just a few of the questions that will surely come to mind as you read through this book and if you are someone who wants to take their life with God to another level, I strongly suggest getting a copy of both "Sun Stand Still" & "Greater" by Steven Furtick.  Allow the writings of a great man of God change the relationship that you have with Christ.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Way to Long...

So, I made a commitment about 2 years ago that I would blog once a week for as long as I can and I have fallen off that bandwagon, but tonight I am vowing to catch back up.   Yes, I know it is cheating, but my hope is to get back to blogging once a week.  With that being said I will be writing three different blog posts to make up for lost time.  Starting with this crazy Michigan weather.

As many of you know (if I do have any readers out there in cyber space) my beautiful wife Jenny and I have most recently moved to the great state of Michigan.  Yes, we are living in Pure Michigan as Tim Allen likes to call it on all of those awesome commercials.  It has been such a great experience so far and we have met some really awesome people through the church I am working at here on the Southside of Detroit or as they call it here Down River (DWR).  We have been blessed with an awesome two bedroom apartment in the heart of Down River with a great church to attend (I get to work at) for the past two months.  We could not be happier with the situation that God has brought us in.

But what i find to be most exciting is the fact that we are on a journey.  We read about in scripture about the journeys that the disciples were able to take over their lifetime, traveling to far away lands, sometimes away from home, and spread the gospel along the way.  I like to think that Cincinnati was one of those stops for the past 7 months of our lives and now we are off on our next stop of this epic journey God is taking us on.  We moved here two months ago totally through God, because we definitely did not imagine that we would be packing up in early September for Michigan (a state Jenny and i had only been to briefly) and starting a student ministry.  What i find astonishing is that God continues to show us that we are on a journey.  Although we are further from the place that we love so much, being closer to our families, we have found that a ministry must be done here.  We have had opportunity to meet some great leaders from the church here at Twin Oaks Christian, as well as run into some awesome people along the way.  It is even more exciting to think that we are just at the very beginning of this very long journey, here in Michigan specifically.

We have truly felt called here, Michigan was not on either of our minds, and we both believe that although it is a had to be far from our families that we have been brought here for a reason.  God has placed us in the "DWR" to make a change and we could not be happier to be a part of such an amazing change.

My prayer over the next year is that this blog will continue to chronicle the journey that God is taking us on.  We will encounter good times and bad, ups and downs, but I am so excited to continue on this journey.  Just hoping that the little, seemingly insignificant things that we do in our daily lives would truly reflect the love of Christ with those we in encounter.  For what more is there in this world than to glorify the living God.



till another day,


normallyINDIE

Monday, October 8, 2012

the Uprising...

As many of you know as of September I accepted a position at Twin Oaks Christian Church in Woodhaven, Michigan to become their Student Ministries Pastor.  I have been working for this church for just over a month and last night we were able to launch our brand new Student Ministry service called the Uprising.

This is going to be a church led by students for students purely to spread the gospel to all of the students that are in our Down River Area.  The Uprising is dedicated to building up a group of students that will faithfully, humbly, & wholeheartedly serve the Lord.

I had the honor last night of putting on our Fall Kickoff with all the help I could get from my Adult Sponsor team.  We had a wonderful night of worship, fun, fall inspired food, and relevant speaking.  It was so exciting to see over 50 Middle School & High School Students there who were excited to hear what all of the Uprising was all about.

Now outside of all of the logistics and everything else, I am so excited to be serving God here at Twin Oaks.  To lead a service like this is what I have been dreaming about doing since I felt the call to go into Student Ministry back in High School.  I have been dreaming of the day when God will give me a chance to preach the gospel to a group of students that are anxious to hear it.  It is such an amazing feeling and I am so honored to be serving him in this way.

I cannot imagine what God has in store for us at the Uprising, but I am so excited and I know he is going to do some amazing things.

If you would like to keep up on all things the Uprising then check out:

Facebook: The Uprising

Twitter: @Uprising_SM

Website: www.twinoakschristian.com

I am so excited for the school year and to see what is going to happen.


till another day,


normallyINDIE

Yet another year...

This Tuesday October 9th I turn another year older.  I will be 23 years old (not much a milestone, but I like birthdays) and my wife loves to celebrate Birthdays as well.  So much so she already gave me a couple gifts off my wish list.

Below are a couple of gifts I already got:

11th Tattoo by Kory Swanson.
Symbolizes being rooted in the Word of God. Thanks Jenny :) 

A couple great movies from my Childhood to Add to my Vast DVD Collection.  Thanks Grandma
Pair of Florida Gators Inspired TOMs.  Thanks Debbie

Nike Colts Jersey.  Reggie Wayne. Thanks Mom & Dad
My family really knows me well and I am so excited to be able to celebrate with them over another year of life.  I am truly blessed to have tons of people in my family that really care.  I love you all.

till another day,


normallyINDIE

Let's Play Ball...

Not only is fall my favorite season of the year, but it also has 3 favorite seasons that are going on at time.  Those three seasons are as follows:  Florida Gators Football, St. Louis Cardinals Baseball, & the Indianapolis Colts Football.  All three of my favorite teams are playing any given weekend and I have three great games to superstitiously cheer for.

For my wife & I, Saturdays are filled with watching the University of Florida Gators stomp on everyone in the SEC on a regular basis while wearing my authentic Tim Tebow Jersey, not to mention matching socks, hat, & authentic shorts.

Sundays are ever more exciting with Jenny and I both having t shirts, jerseys, and shorts to choose from that dawn our favorite NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts.  You will most often find us cheering on Andrew Luck and the rest of Colts on CBS every Sunday afternoon.

But nothing is better than the month of October or as people of the great city of St. Louis like to call it RedOctober.  The beginning of October the MLB Postseason begins and most years we have the privilege of watching our St. Louis Cardinals advance to the postseason, not to mention winning the world series in 2006 & 2011 (hopefully 2012).

Sports have always been a huge part of my life and the fall is the center of the sports world for my wife and I with all three of our favorite teams playing at the same time.

GO GATORS!!!

GO COLTS!!!

GO CARDINALS!!!


till another day,


normallyINDIE

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

That time of year...

It has just begun.  The first time of the year when the layering begins.  My favorite time of year is the fall.  The weather changes, the leaves fall, football is in full swing, and the temperature dips below 50.  The perfect time of your to throw on a sweatshirt, drink some great coffee (or hot apple cider), and enjoy the amazing season God has created for us.

My wife and I recently moved to Michigan in the Down River District of Detroit (or as I have named it the DWR).  We are just beginning to get used to the place, but nothing excites me more than the fall weather which is just beginning.  Just a couple of weeks ago I began to follow my favorite football teams (Florida Gators & Indianapolis Colts) and are so excited for the rest of the season to continue.  But besides football season being in high gear, there is much to love about the fall.

This is the first time of the year that we are not dripping with sweat while wearing our favorite pair of jeans.  It is just now getting acceptable to wear those awesome beanies that we all have been waiting months to wear (maybe that is just me), but most of all we get to hang out with friends outside around a bonfire or grill enjoying some of our favorite food and company.  What could be better than spending a fall evening grilling out, listening to music, and reminiscing with old friends.

Since we are new to the place, I have some goals for the fall season that I hope I can achieve before the dreadful cold of winter hits.  They are as follows (in no particular order):

Play 10 more rounds of golf (shoot below 80 again)
Play a couple games of pick up football
Watch my St. Louis Cardinals win the 2012 Fall Classic
Enjoy multiple bonfires with new friends
Train our awesome new puppy to go to the bathroom outside (not as easy as it looks)
Purchase and read Tony Larussa's new book
Road trip to Northern Michigan
Enjoy my 23rd Birthday (October 9th if you were wondering)
Begin brainstorming ideas for my first book
Watch a couple new shows on Netflix (the best thing for a TV/Movie buff)
Visit Canada for the first time
Discover some new music (that no one has ever heard of)
Go to an Apple Orchard and get some great caramel apples
Throw a Halloween Party in our new home
Begin the adventure of finding Detroit's best burger joint
Find a couple great local coffee shops (any suggestions)
Go on many a walks with my beautiful bride

These are just a couple of my many goals for the coming months as we settle into the great weather and watch as God, once again, performs one of his many miracles.  Such an exciting time of the year and I am so blessed to be spending it in one of the most beautiful states in America.  Wish me luck.



till another day,



normallyINDIE

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

All Things New...

As you may know, there are a lot of changes that have taken place recently in my wife and I's life.  We have moved to a new home (Southgate, MI), accepted a new job (Student Ministries Pastor @ Twin Oaks Christian Church), as well as a couple other things.

We have recently purchased a great new vehicle for Jennifer to drive and have gotten rid of the Olds.  It was a sad day when we saw the Olds drive away, but we were happy to have the new Pontiac Torrent in our grasp.  It is a 2WD SUV, with a Sunroof, all the great technology items inside, tons of room, not to mention pretty great gas mileage (for an SUV).

2007 Pontiac Torrent
We have also adopted a wonderful 10 week old mini dachshund puppy by the name of Indie.  He is a really great, cute, fun puppy, but man are they a lot of work.  Our lives have changed, which is tougher than we thought, but we are happy.

Indie at 6 weeks old
As well as the new additions to our family and our garage, I also designed my office with some great help from Jennifer Tod.  I am still working on the wall decor, but it is a work in progress. 

One of the Great Pictures found at Urban Outfitters

The view home the front door of the new Office @ Twin Oaks 
Lastly, Jenny and I just become official Michiganders by receiving our Michigan License Plates as well as our Michigan Licenses (temporaries for the next 10 business days).  

Temp Michigan License
We are really excited for the future and our lives here in Michigan.  We are still exploring and hoping for a wonderful time here.  God is so good and we are so happy to be here.  If you would like to come visit, get in touch.  We would love to see you.  



till another day, 



normallyINDIE


The New Guy...

My wife and I most recently decided to take a leap of faith and accept a position in a state we have never visited, moving further away from family, and did I mention doing all of this in 2 weeks.  Yes, my wife and had recently decided to accept a position at Twin Oaks Christian Church in Woodhaven, Michigan as their Student Ministries Pastor.

We did not know much about the church or about Michigan in general before visiting just a few weeks ago.  But as we had our first Sunday this past week as well as my 2nd week in the office, I could not be more pleased with the decision that God allowed us to make.  The church is filled with hundreds of great people that are truly seeking after God and his mission and vision for their lives as well as students that are fully engaged in their relationships with christ.  

Upon our meeting this past Sunday Night, I challenged the students with the idea that there are 10,000 students in the Down River District, many of which who do not have a church home.  Our students here at Twin Oaks Christian Church have begun to shift their focus away from themselves, but to the 10,000.  As the year continues, we will continue to focus on this number believing that our mission is not complete until all 10,000 people have heard the message of the love of Christ as well as have found a place to grow and fellowship with other believers.  

As far as Student Ministries goes, their will be a couple changes that take place very soon and I am very excited to unveil those changes on October 7th at our Fall Kickoff.  I am so ready to see what God has in store for me with these students here as well as what role my wife and I can play in the family of Twin Oaks Christian Church 

till another day, 



normallyINDIE 

Goodbye OTR, Hello DWR...

Goodbye Cincinnati and our wonderful downtown apartment, what an amazing and adventurous 8 months it was living on 8th and Main St. in downtown Cincinnati, but we have traded in our city digs for a much nicer, quiet, hipster, 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment in Southgate, MI.

We have just recently moved into the beautiful state of Michigan, specifically south of Detroit in the Down River District.  It is a beautiful area filled with nature, wildlife, urban culture, and not to mention restaurants.  Although we very much loved the history and culture of Over the Rhine we are really excited to call the Down River District our new home.  

From what we have heard is that Detroit is one of the worst areas to live in America, but all we have found is fun loving, beautiful, great people that have a hospitality unlike any other city I have been a part of.  Not to mention, I hope that I pick of the accent that is so great up here in the north.  We have spent much of our time in Trenton, Wynadotte, Southgate, Taylor, & Woodhaven and we love the historical old homes as well as the convenience of having a Target, Walmart, Starbucks, CVS, & Redbox right near by.  

We most recently received our Michigan License plates as well as our official (temporary) Michigan Driver's Licenses (after a two hour adventure at the SOS office).  What we have been told now is all we have to get is a Red Wings jersey and a Michigan Maize and Blue hat and we will become true Michiganders.  

We are so excited to have moved a new home, with new adventures, people, and places.  Stay tuned for more updates about our favorite places to go in the DWR as well as Downtown Detroit.  


till another day, 



normallyINDIE

Our First Home...

It has been quite awhile since I have been able to blog, but I am going to promise you that will stop this week.  I will begin back on my weekly tradition this week.

From where I left off, my beautiful wife Jennifer and I had a pretty big decision to make.  Beginning of August we were approached by a Pastor in Michigan about the opportunity for a position in youth ministry.  From the very beginning of conversations with Randy Wheeler we were excited about the opportunity, but most of all saddened by the fact that it meant we would be leaving our home in Cincinnati.

I started my time at Groesbeck Church in January of 2012 fresh out of college and ready to see what God had in store.  I could not have asked for more.  My time spent at Groesbeck was great and an amazing learning experience as I had an opportunity to work with some great students and volunteers at the After School Program as well as mold the minds of our six student leaders.  Nothing excited me more than to see the passion in the eyes of the students of CHAOS//Student Ministries.  It truly was a wonderful experience.

But as you know, we felt that when we were offered the position of Student Ministries Pastor at Twin Oaks Christian Church we truly felt that God was calling us out of our ministry at Groesbeck and to partner with him in a new city, a new church, and a new home.  It was a huge risk, but my wife and I find that the best situations always come out of a little risk.

Therefore, as of August 31st, 2012 we began to call Southgate, MI and Twin Oaks Christian Church our home.

Again, Groesbeck Church, thank you so much for the hospitality, the friendship, the love, and the fun that we had with you all for a short time.  We will be praying for you and the journey that you guys are on.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just another week...

Yes, it is the middle of August 2012 and there is really not much to talk about in life.  We are in the midst of something amazing here at Groesbeck Church with a rebranding campaign in full swing.  We are just one month away from the relaunch of our Contemporary Service at 11:00am on Sundays and we could not be more excited about the opportunities that are going to come our way as we begin to serve the church.  

But when I really think about it...what seems to keep coming to my mind is why we do what we do?  What is the purpose of living a life as a pastor to a congregation of people who are looking for something.  It is really just that.  All of us inside are seeking something in our lives whether it be fame, fortune, love, happiness, but all of those things still really cannot fill the void that seems to get more vast every second of every day.  That is the amazing gift that we pastors have the opportunity to share on a weekly basis.  

The idea that hope can be find in a relationship with Christ Jesus and Christ Jesus alone.  It makes all those other things seem insignificant.  It brings to light the reason that we pastors stay up late and wake up early, visit the sick, preach on sundays, counsel during the week, because there is a community we are a part of that is looking for something.  We have that something and it is our job to show that to them.  

God has revealed in me that despite all things, he power and hope reigns true in all things.  It is an exciting feeling and most of all a feeling that makes me want to drive to work every morning.  A feeling that excites me when I have the chance to interact with students.  A chance that excites me when I am able to share the gospel with a student and they get it.  There is not a better feeling in life then knowing that you shared the gift of life with someone, the gift of life in Jesus Christ.  



till another day, 



normallyINDIE 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Seasons Change...

As the weather starts to change, the leaves start to fall, and you begin to hear the sound of the marching band coming your way, something stirs in your heart.  Their is just something about the end of a season and the transition of a new way that always gets to me.  It always seems to make me feel sentimental for what happened in the past few months and hopeful for what is to come.

For us here in the midwest United States, it is about time for fall and when I think of fall I think of sweatshirts, college football, a great bowl of chili, beautiful weather, perfection.  But as I think of the future perfection to come, I cannot help but look back at the summer that was 2012 and all it had to bring.

As many of you know, this past spring I married the love of my life Jenny Tod in Indianapolis, IN on March 10th, 2012.  It was the most magical experience of my life.  Such an unexplainable feeling to see something you have dreamed of for so many years finally come true.  Not to mention the fact that for the rest of my life I get to spend time with my best friend, sharing in the good, the bad, and the ugly.  This being said, this was Jenny and I's first summer together and most of all our first summer in Cincinnati.  Man was it hot.  Record heat killed us in our downtown apartment because of the lack of Central A/C (something you don't appreciate until it is gone).   All in all, we had a wonderful summer together downtown just steps away from Street Pops, all the events in OTR, and not to mention Graeter's Ice Cream on Fountain Square.

This was also my first summer at Groesbeck Church as their Pastor of Student Ministries.  It was an exciting event filled summer with trips jam packed into the month of July that I almost felt as though I was not home at all (not a good feeling).  I went on my first trip to Ichthus, Minot, ND, and Awaken the City.  All of these trips giving me the opportunity to get closer with our church family and really  begin to feel at home.  This summer also gave me the drive to get work done as we have begun in our process of redesigning the church as a whole from the ground up.  It is a really exciting, yet scary process as we begin to rethink what God has in store for Groesbeck Church.

This summer being exciting and fun-filled only gives me the sense of hope for the fall.  What is in store just around the corner?  I will never know for sure what is going to happen next, but what I do know is that the Lord is leading us in the direction we are supposed to go and I am so excited to follow him humbly and serve him with all of my heart.  God sure is doing some amazing things in our lives and I am so excited for him to show himself in miraculous ways once again.


till another day,




normallyINDIE

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson - Book Review...

Time for another book review.  I most recently finished reading yet another book (I keep buying new books though) and i am excited to share with you my thoughts.

If you have not yet heard of Mark Batterson, he is truly a gifted pastor and author.  The author of the Circle Maker is fairly new to the pastoral author scene (if that is a real thing), but yet he has some exciting words to share.  As the book chronicles Mark is a pastor/church planter in the Metro DC area and a few years ago he felt all to do something unlike he had every thought of.  That was to literally pray circles around his future.  He learned this idea from a novel called the Book of Legends which chronicles legends of jewish history who were monumental.  One in particular was named Honi and he came up with the idea of truly praying to God like the Israelites did on their march to Jericho.  He would not spot praying until the Lord showed himself to all of his people.  This not only showed to be effective, but God showed in ways the Honi did not even think were possible.  As you read through Mark's words, you begin to see his same journey of circling his life and ministry in prayers.  A simple prayer walk around a 4 mile radius of his house paved the way for the future of his ministry in the DC area.  Literal places that Mark did not know existed were given to him to use as a tool for ministry in the future, only to realize that he walked by them on that original prayer walk.

The book along with the DVD curriculum truly shows the power that prayer can have and the fact that the Lord is waiting for us to ask of him miraculous things just so he can show is true colors.  For if we are unwilling to ask the Lord for immeasurably more, then how is he supposed to truly prove himself to his believing.  Mark explains in an amazing way to his readers that prayer is not merely something to calm our nerves or get things off of our chest, but it is the way that we partner with the Lord in life and ministry.  We ask the Lord for amazing miracles and in his time he provides.

This book is truly and inspiration to those who are seeking out a deeper prayer life.  It has transformed the way I pray about my family, my church, and my personal relationship with Christ.  It is a must read for those seeking out how to truly get the most out of their relationship with Christ.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Photographer?...


I am not a photographer.  If you have been following me on Instagram you can very well see the lack of skill that I have when it comes to manuevering a camera.  But that is not what my wonderful wife saw in me.  She sees photography as an opportunity for her to teach me how to be a great photographer because she is first a great photographer.  Jenny just recently started to get her freelance business really going full steam and she can be found at www.turquoisefeathers.com .  As you have heard me say time and time again she is the most talented, hard working designer/photographer I have ever met.

After a lot of patience and a couple short lessons, she gave me the opportunity to jump behind the camera and shoot a few pictures of her beautiful face as she posed for some self portraits.  This post is the product of that session.  Enjoy.  









Excited to keep shooting and I hope to have more and more pictures up soon,



till another day,



normallyINDIE

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

InstaUpdate...

Time once again to share with you some of my favorite snapshots from my favorite iPhone application Instagram.  As it updates the application only continues to get better and better with more and more filters and effects to choose.  So here we go:

Got to see it on Opening Day

Hyde Park Comm. UMC
A beautiful Sanctuary to Worship God

Starbuck's Refreshers
A must try if you are looking for a new drink.

Most anticipated album of this year

Mr. Austin Livingood

Just some of the reading I have done this year

So there ya have it, just a look at a couple of my favorite moments using the Instagram App.  If you have not already follow me at username normallyindie .  If you do not have an Instagram, grab yourself and iPhone or other smartphone of choice and download the free app.  It is great and worth your time.



till another day,



normallyINDIE

First Side of the Record...

It is now August and although it is not exactly half way through 2012 (July was a pretty busy month for me) I felt it was necessary to celebrate those records that just could not stopping ringing through our ears and spinning on our record players.  There were a lot of wonderful albums that were released this year and it is so exciting to be introduced to new bands all the time.  Here it goes:

Best New Finds
1. The Vespers - The Fourth Wall 
2.  Mike Main & the Branches - Home 
3.  Belle Histoire - Dreamers 
4.  Of Monsters & Men - My Head is an Animal 
5.  Birdy - Self-Titled 

Veterans with Style
1.  John Mayer - Born & Raised 
2.  David Crowder Band - Give Us Rest 
3.  The Fray - Scars & Stories 
4.  House of Heroes - Cold Hard Want 
5.  Jack White - Blunderbuss 
    
Must Have on Vinyl 
1.  Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More 
2.  The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow 
3.  Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math 
4.  Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Greatest Hits 
5.  Death Cab for Cutie - Plans 

Unknown Faves 
1.  Angus & Julia Stone - 
2.  Birdy - Self-Titled 
3.  Belle Histoire - Dreamers 
4.  The Vespers - the Fourth Wall 
5.  Best Coast - the Only Place 

Belt it Out 
1.  Elevation Worship - For Your Honor 
2.  John Mayer - Born & Raised 
3.  The Rock of Ages - Motion Picture Soundtrack 
4.  Chris Brown - Fortune 
5.  Fun. - Some Nights 

Pumped for the Future 
1.  Mumford & Sons - Babel (Sept. 24th 2012) 
2.  OneRepublic - Rumored 
3.  Seabird - (Title TBA) 
4.  Tenth Avenue North - The Struggle (Aug. 21st 2012) 
5.  Band of Horses - Mirage Rock (Sept. 28th 2012) 

These are just a couple of my top records of these past 7 months and I am so excited for new records to continue to surface and rumors to grow about more of my favorite artists.  Let me know if you have heard any great bands recently and remember support the artist, not the record labels, go to shows, by their physical cds, grab some merch.  



till another day, 



normallyINDIE 

Dreamers - Belle Histoire...

I have had the honor to listen to some pretty great bands over the past years, many of which I have built a friendship (Eric Mac - Irela, TJ - Good Morning Gladys, Aaron Morgan - Seabird, Austin Livingood - Belle Histoire)  Music is a huge part of my life and will continue to be for as long as I live.  Therefore, when I find a great band it is hard for me to want to put their album down for more than 5 minutes.

There have been a couple of exception albums this year of 2012, but none like Belle Histoire's first ever full length titled Dreamers.  A band that calls my home Cincinnati their birthplace, they have been taking over the music scene.  Most recently touring with Death Cab for Cutie and playing at Cincinnati's very first Bunburry Festival this past year, Belle Histoire has only been amping themselves up for their album release this past month.

I currently have been listening to the album on repeat for the last two weeks and it excites me every time.  The vocals are of music genius, but only to be balanced by the smooth guitar and drum beats surrounding it.  All of the songs on the record are filled with passion and heart, but also have a tune that is worth belting out on long road trips, or sometimes in the comfort of your own office.  Their first two EPs were merely teasers for what was to come in this first full length and this time it leaves you itching for more and more.

A great friend of mine happens to be a part of this band and I am so honored to share in this huge moment for him as well as the rest of his band mates.  I wish them the best as always and i suggest jumping onto iTunes and downloading their first every full length entitled DREAMERS.

It is totally worth the purchase and even more so worth seeing this great band perform live.  Also check out their website for tour dates at www.bellehistoiremusic.com

Good luck and happy listening.



till another day,



normallyINDIE

Another Cup of Coffee...

If you have been following this blog at all over the past 6 months, you will have seen a lot of book review and particularly book reviews that regard to my many Starbuck's books.  I began my journey reading Onward by Howard Schultz which is a story about the rough patch that they encountered from 2008 - the present.  Most of all how Schultz handled the pressure of stepping back into a managerial role and turning the company upside down.  I then moved onto the Starbuck's Experience, this book was a perfect read because it encapsulates the 5 point business model that made Starbucks into the powerhouse it is today.  Most recently I moved onto Pour Your Heart Into it by Howard Schultz (and another ghost writer).  This is a little older look at the dynamic company, but it gives an in-depth history lesson of how the company began, thrived, and continues to find success through dynamic relevance.  Thanks to a great friend of mine who is one of Starbuck's thousands of partners/baristas, I will be continuing to read up on this wonderful company.

You may be asking, why/how would a Pastor of Student Ministries find anything relevant for ministry in a book about a for profit company like Starbucks (besides the refreshing aroma of coffee as he reads it in a wonderful Starbucks location).  It is very simple actually.  Starbuck's has always valued the newcomer at a very high level, hoping to transform the way they understand coffee and how they experience it.  Therefore, their baristas, locations, coffee, and food items all emulate a level excellence that truly gives the newcomer the best of experiencing something.   This is exactly what I find to be true with the position I find myself in today.  I have been called to create an experience for people to understand what God has created them for.  It is being very sensitive to a newcomer that needs a little explaining as to why they would ever enjoy something like this.  As well as training those that are working for me to be great advocates for what is happening in the name of God.

Like Starbuck's the church is trying to send a message to the world that their is something out there that they have never experienced before and that is the loving hope of Jesus Christ.

PS.  If you there are any great Starbucks books I have missed please let me know and I will read them right away.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Favorite Teachings...

Here is a copy of one of my recent teachings focusing on the power of influence.

video

Monday, June 18, 2012

InstaUpdate...

One of my favorite apps for the iPhone (hopefully the iPad here soon) is Instagram. As I like to say it gives me the opportunity to take great pictures even though I have not photography skill of my own. If you to have instagram then you can follow me at normallyindie. I currently have posted 151 photos over the past year and they range from books, to cool sites, to messages to my beautiful wife Jenny. All are unique and give me the chance to put a twist to them that make them my own. Here are a couple of my favorites over the past couple months. If you enjoy feel free to follow me. (username : normallyindie).

Jenny leading us in Worship

Our First Pice of Mail

"?"

Seabird live @ The 86 Club

My Dad is such a Beast

Coffee Emporium on a Rainy Day

till another day,



normallyINDIE

Strike Three...

Sports are at the center of our lives for much of us at an early age. We have all grown up looking to become the next Babe Ruth or Tiger Woods or Joe Montana (whatever sports superstar you choose to look up to). Especially in our American culture we have the need to grab onto the hopes and dreams of our favorite sports teams. How do you decide your favorite sports or sports teams. Well it is a serious formula that takes years to understand, actually for a lot of us it is related to where we call home or who are family believes to be the best or favorite.

For me I was born in the great state of Missouri in St. Louis where I began my relationship with the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams. As I continued through my life I moved to Florida and now became a Florida Gators fanatic. My life then continues and Tiger Woods grabbed my heart with his powerful drives and exciting fist pumps. As I continued to grow and move I added two other sports to my list being the Indianapolis Colts (thanks to my beautiful wife) and Lebron James (currently the Miami Heat). All of these people seemed to grab my heart in different ways and for different reasons. Either for their underdog championships or their truimph against adversity or merely their dominance when no one else would step up to the plate.

I have become a person that seems to connect with each of these members of sports, so much that I feel like I am one of the men on that team. I connect so much that it sometimes feels like your committment to the team or player will allow them to be successful. Even though this seems to be so ridiculous when you think about it, when it comes down to it we all have our favorite jersey or our favorite hat that we all believe will have an effect on our favorite if and when we wear it. At the peak of our favorite season of sports our emotions can go up and down like a roller coaster, but their is nothing better than watching your team capture that elusive championship.

For some reason, as Americans, sports have been able to take our minds away from everything else that is happening in our lives to give us hope and joy. I am thankful for sports and their excitement, but most of all the hope and joy that it brings sometimes to a dreary day.

Thank you sports for the relationship.    


till another day,


normallyINDIE

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Growing Library...

I am so excited for what is to come, because if you know me at all you know how much I love books.  Most recently we purchased two wonderful bookcases from Target (thanks to Duane) and we were able to fill them with some great classic books and leftover decorations from our wedding.  But we had now take all of my ministry books and other books back to my office to join the rest of my collection.  It is really exciting to me to have all my books in one place.  Just in time for summer, this gives me the opportunity to hopefully finish off all of the books in my collection (only to head to Half Price Books and grab some more).  What I am most looking forward to for this summer is working through the rest of the Re:Lit series as a part of the Crossway publishing company and coordinated by Mark Driscoll.

No I am not a member of the reformation movement (most recently became a member of Groesbeck UMC), but I have found a facination with this movement and the theology that comes from it.  As well as the theology, there is a lot of passion in the words of the authors who have been a part of this book series. Most recently I have purchased Doctrine by Mark Driscoll, Gospel Centered Discipleship & Community. Summer is one of my favorite times of the year for the time I have to read.

All of my library will be here with me in my new office and the bookcases are only getting fuller.  Hopefully the fuller the bookcases the fuller my mind gets with knowledge.

If you have any other books you have found to be interesting or compelling in nature, comment below and let me know.  

till another day,


normallyINDIE

Oh, How we Change...

It is interesting to look back and see how our lives have changed over the past few years.  As many of you know I have recently graduated from college, moved to a new city, and gotten married to my beautiful wife Jennifer.  With all of these great life events comes moving into a new apartment and what is most exciting is that it is our first apartment.  We have the opportunity to create, design, and modify our apartment to make it a home.  And with this we have spent a lot of time at Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, & Target.

Earlier on in my life I spent very little time at these home improvement stores and when I did I was miserable only waiting till it is time to go home.  But now I begin to smile when we drive up to these stores and it is the most exciting time for me when I am able to create something wonderful for my beautiful wife and I to use in our beautifully designed apartment.  Currently we are working a vintage coffee table made from a door used at our wedding, framing and mounting a vintage world map, hanging 9 record frames in our music listening area, creating a headboard out of two vintage palletes, and building a drafting table.  All of these things are great and make me excited to come home at the end of the day to see how I can help my wife make our house a home.

Keep checking out this blog and if you are in the cincy area come check out our place.  Hope to see/hear from you all soon.


till another day,


normallyINDIE

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Time to Submit it...

In January of this year I accepted the position Community Youth Coordinator at Groesbeck United Methodist Church (soon to be changing to Student Ministries Pastor). This role includes directing and implementing an after school program for High School age students from Colerain HS and the surrounding area. With this comes funding and with this funding comes grant writing.

I am currently submitting a grant for Congregational Revitalization to the West Ohio Conference of United Methodist. It is an exciting opportunity that begin in February when I had the opportunity to travel to the conference offices in Columbus and sit through a seminar explaining just exactly what it meant to write a grant. After just over a month of editing, writing, and collecting it has come time to submit and in just two short days I will be submitting the grant for evaluation and approval at the West Ohio Conference. It is exciting, but also nerve-racking realizing that some of what we do here at CHAOS//Student Ministries could be dictated by the verdict that is returned after the submission of this grant. What I have come to realize is that not only is this a nerve racking opportunity, but it is also an opportunity to trust the living God who all in all is in control of all of our lives and the decisions that occur.

It got me thinking, in what other areas of my life is it important to submit and trust the Lord. I begin to think about my own personal finances and the well being of my family, the car troubles we find ourselves in as well as the continuing growth that comes with being an adult and I realize all of it. All of it must be submitted to the Lord, for in the midst of everything that seems to be so nerveracking and intimidating he finds a way to provide and not only provide for us, but be glorified in the process. When we think about life through that lens it makes it so much simpler. Asking the question how are my actions glorifying the Lord today and I am fully submitting and trusting the will of God to lead me through my life?


till another day,


normallyINDIE

An Obsession...

It is that time of year, time to update you all on our latest addictions to DVDs and now introducting Netflix/Apple TV. For christmas my wonderful Father in Law gave us an Apple TV, which for those of you who do not know is a little black box that streams anything and everything entertainment to your HDTV. Thus our DVD viewing has drastically changed with the introduction of netflix streaming wirelessly to our brand new 47" Vizio HDTV (thanks again Duane). Now that are viewing format has drastically gotten better I will go on to tell you the great shows we have become interested in over the past 6 months since the new year began.

Top Shows on DVD
1. One Tree Hill (Season 1-9)
2. The OC (Season 1 - 4)
3. The Office (Season 1 - 7)
4. Friends (Currently watching Season 6)
5. Full House (Season 1 - 8)

Top Shows on Netflix
1. Parks and Recreation (Season 1 - 3)
2. One Tree Hill (Yes on DVD & Netflix)
3. CNBC Documentaries (Alec is a Nerd)
4. Psych (Currently watching Season 3)
5. Saved by the Bell (season 1 - 5)

Tops Shows on Cable
1. Bachelor/Bachelorette Series (Jenny :)
2. How I Met Your Mother (Season 7)
3. The Office (Season 8)
4. The Voice (Season 2)
5. American Ninja Warrior (Alec is Lame)

Top Shows Coming Soon to DVD/on our Wish List
1. The Office (Season 8)
2. How I Met Your Mother (Season 7)
3. Parks & Recreation (Season 4)
4. Friends (Season 6 - 10)
5. Boy Meets World (Season 2 - 7)

As you can see my love of DVDs and specifically television shows has rubbed on my beautiful wife Jennifer. We each have our favorites and are excited for what is to come. But if anything we can share together in our love of laughing, crying, and getting attached to a great TV sitcom. Thank you to all those actors we love so much and for making it so easy to share together in this obsession with Television.

till another day,


normallyINDIE

Monday, May 21, 2012

Birthday wishes...

This week is a special week in my life.  If you guessed it is my birthday... you were wrong, this weekend is the birthday of my beautiful wife Jennifer.   It is a special week for us because at the end of it is her first birthday since being married.  I have many things planned for this week to show her home special she truly is and how wonderful I have cherished these last couple of years together.

What is so amazing is this is my third birthday with her and each one I have fallen more and more in love with her.  It is times like these that makes me look forward to her 82nd birthday and spending a wonderful week together leading up to her big day.

Lastly, I would love to thank God and also Duane Schroeder and Debbie Schroeder for giving birth to my beautiful bride and raising her to be the wonderful woman she is today.  Thank You.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

802 Main St...

As you know my beautiful wife and I have had the amazing opportunity of moving into a wonderful new city, the city of Cincinnati.  With this comes new places to see, eat, drink, listen, play, etc.  Therefore this blog is dedicated to those places.

Coffee Shops
     We live just south of Over the Rhine (one of the best districts to live in in Cincinnati) and there are some great coffee shops in this area.  There is always Starbuck's on fifth street, but what I find to be the best in the area is Coffee Emporium.  This is a staple in the area located on Central Parkway and it comes with a full roaster as well as breakfast bar on the weekends.  They always have great local coffee brewing, the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had (a meal in itself), and not to mention outside seating that gives you the opportunity to sip on a cup and check out the great city.  Next is Iris Book Cafe, just a little bit further down Main St.  Tucked in between a great group of stores in OTR you will find some wonderful vegan food options as well as some great brewed iced teas and coffees.  

Dining Spots 
      We have begun the practice of a date night once a week where we are able to get out of the house and check out a new local place.  Our top spots so far have been Arnold's (the oldest bar in Cincinnati), Cincy by the Slice, and especially Graeter's Ice cream.  Each of these place's has there speciality and we continue to try new things each time we go, especially graeter's.  

These are just a couple of our favorite places in Cincinnati.  We are so excited to continue to try new things and venture out on journeys across the city.  Keep checking up and look at what is happening in our world.  



till another day, 



normallyINDIE

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review - Onward by Howard Schultz ...

Coffee has been a huge part of my life since I was 12 years old. My first interaction with coffee or a coffeeshop was a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks in Bloomington-Normal, IL. At they time my coffee taste buds were not so high and I needed a lot of sugar added to handle the coffee taste. But as I continued to grow up and my palette was toughened, I moved from a white chocolate mocha, to a vanilla latte, to drip coffee with a little bit of sugar, and now finally good old black coffee. My relationship and growth with coffee has grown from merely a small to go cup of coffee to a full on experience. In each city I have lived in over the past 5 years I have a specific coffee shop that has become home (Coffee Hound, Starbuck's, Corner Bloc, Mojo's, Strange Brew, & Coffee Emporium). Although I have a heart for local coffee shops, there has always been a place in my heart for Starbuck's Coffee Company. I am not really sure why, but there is merely something about my start of my relationship with coffee that links me to Starbuck's. This link has only continued when I got ahold of the story of Starbucks book Onward written by their Founder & CEO Howard Schultz himself. This book is written in the view of the story of Starbuck's and their journey from Pike Place to the thousands of stores across the world. Howard spend much of the book writting about the importance of leadership and leadership by communication. Reading through his words you can clearly see that coffee was not just grounds and some hot water, but coffee for Howard is a lifestyle, coffee for Howard is an experience. What I could take away from this is the connection between the Starbuck's business model and the business model of the local church. So much of the time we think of church as being merely a Sunday morning event that we are required to be a part of because scripture says so, but this is not our product, our product is a lifestyle or an experience. The Lord has called us to a build a church that is centered on bringing people into relationship with his son Jesus Christ and in doing so leading them on the path of sanctification. With this responsibility we cannot merely "sell a good cup of coffee", but we have to make people realize that a relationship with Christ is so much more. Like Howard, I look forwarrd to examining the ministry I am a part of and begin to understand if I am merely adding hot water to coffee grounds or if I am creating a once in a lifetime experience that will change the way people live their lives. till another day, normallyINDIE

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

50 and counting...

Almost 11 months ago I set out on a mission to write a blog post once a week, and although there have a few weeks where it has not been a priority (finals week, wedding, honeymoon) I did seem to find a way to catch up and always stay on pace to reach my goal. I am proud to say that although I have yet to hit the 1 year mark I have hit 50. That's right 50 posts (1 each week for the last 50 weeks).

Now for many of you this may just be a blog therefore what's the big deal when you read 50 posts. But for me this is a journal that goes through the moments of my life that have been influential from moving to Indianapolis, to marrying my wonderful wife, and ultimately moving back to Cincinnati to pursue a career in ministry.

As I look back on all 50 of these posts, I see high points during this year as well as low points that deserve a moment of reflection, each in their own special way. I have changed over these past 50 posts and it can be seen through my writing and studying.

If anything, this blog has been an outlet for me to speak my mind to whoever is listening, but most of all share my concerns about this world with the Lord. There is something truly freeing about putting words to a page. It trully can be a form of medication for a person that is struggling with anything from doubt to depression and happiness to joy.

I pray that over the next 50 posts I continuelly to see my life changed as well as the lives of others around me to be changed, not because I can write words to a page, but because the living God speaks through me. That is my prayer for this blog and my prayer for the community I am apart of, that they would all, someday be transformed by the power of the Gospel.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Monday, April 2, 2012

And the Vote was...

If you have been following Groesbeck United Methodist church in Colerain Township for the last couple of months, you know all about the Consultation process. This being a process that was voted on and issued by the West Ohio Conference of Methodist Church (for those of you who are non-denominational, this is the form of organization for the Methodist Denomination in West Ohio). Led by our conference leaders Sue Nelson Kibbey and Brian Brown, our church was chosen as one of only 12 in the 1100 that call themselves West Ohio Conference members. This is truly an honor to be considered for this and our church members as well as staff were really exciting to see what this meant.

Therefore, over the past months there have people evauluating our church, all the way from our building structure to our worship style. They explored all areas of our church community and at the end of their time of evaluation they gave us 5 prescriptions. These prescriptions were 5 changes that they believed needed to be made in order to take our church to the next level. After a month of town hall meetings and conversations the church membership body took a vote and by a wide margin the prescriptions based (92.7%) and will be initiated over the next 3 years here at Groesbeck.

This exciting time of evalutation mostly makes me felel as though I should praise the Lord for the gift he has given us as a church, but it also reminds me that there are some huge opportunities that must be taken advantage of over the coming years. We, as a staff and church body, have an amazing opportunity to change the lives of thousands of people in the Colerain community through the changes and development that will come with these prescriptions. All of which are centered on our core task to go and make disciplines.

With all that being said, I would ask for your prayers in the coming years for guidance from our loving and faithful Lord as well as leadership. We are feeling callling to shared the gospel with as many people in the Colerain area as possible, therefore we need your prayers.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Book Review - Weird by Craig Groeschel

In the midst of such a relaxing week off in the Dominican Republic during my beautiful wife and I's honeymoon, I had the opportunity to read the book Weird by Craig Groeschel. Craig is the leader of lifechurch.tv as well as the creater of the YouVersion Bible for all mobile devices. What brought me to reading this book was the innovation that Craig seems to be so excited about innovating in the ministry field. Just as the entire world is moving, our ministry world must also be moving and changing to become more innovative in order to relate to the lost and deing world we live in.

Overall this book was not necessarily what I thought it would be. The premise of the book was merely about the changing way we look at our everyday lives and instead of being normal, being "WEIRD" This statement is not new to Christian behave as Jesus also calls us to be aliens in this world, just as he was. But Craig takes a few steps further and breaks down every aspect of the human life and shows the importance of being "WEIRD". All the way from Parenting to Financial decisions all people must be "Weird". This is an intresting concept, but it is not necessarily anything that I have not heard before. The book was a simple read with many simple concepts that were easily appliable to life daily.

If you are looking for a book that is a simple read for students or for new Christians this is a great foundation for those seeking some guidance through life as a Christian. This book is nothing new in the ministry world, but it is a great, simple read.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Alec & Jenny ...

As many of you know, on March 10, 2012 I married the most most wonderful woman in the world at the Harrison Center for the Arts in Indianapolis, IN. The wedding was perfectly designed from the save the dates almost two years ago to the centerpieces on that beautiful day. (check out turquoisefeathers.blogspot.com for updates) I was so honored to be a part of such a special day and most of all to take a role as husband for the rest of our lives. Our wedding day doesn't just mean we are now married, but it also means that we have begun a journey, a journey that sends us into a relationship that will pass through decades and generations and most of all will begin a new family.

Jenny and I's respective families are the Schroeders and Tods, the Schroeders calling Indiana home and the Tods calling Illinois home. The marriage of us two has now instituted a new family and that is the Tod's that are calling Ohio home.

We have finally come to the point that after 2.5 years of long distance that my beautiful bride and I will be beginning our new family here in Cincinnati as the Tod Family.

follow the Tod's at www.alecandjenny.com for updates on our new lives together.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Monday, March 5, 2012

To Your Story...

Last night at CHAOS//Sunday Night Benji and I led the students through an exercise as a part of our Crash Series (series dedicated to shamelessly pursuing the mission of Jesus Christ).  We encouraged the students to ask themselves a few questions about their relationship with Jesus and in the midst of this establish their story.  This practice is not something revolutionary to the church, but it is a form of evangelism that seems to be effective when it comes to truly loving people in the name of Christ.  With this being said, we asked them to think about what their lives were like in these three situations


Before they met Jesus 
When they met Jesus 
After they met Jesus

Each of these stages of their lives, no matter where they were in their relationship with Jesus, brought to life some important ideas and reflections.  But it got me thinking about my story, so I thought I would share it with you.

Before I met Jesus...
I was raised with two parents that felt it would be beneficial for us to go to church.  Therefore, my family and I attended Harvest Christian Church in St. Charles, MO.  This was the place I was introduced to the idea of church and what it meant to be a regular church member (not necessarily a follower of Christ, for I was still 5 years old when we attended here), but this was the place my mother decided to follow Christ for the first time.  It was a long journey for her, but you will have to ask her for her story.  Shortly after this my father got a job in Wellington, FL and we were off.  Our next stop in this journey of faith was at New Hope Community Church.  This is where much of my religious beginning took place.  I began to realize what the bible was, who God was, and Jesus' purpose for coming to this earth.

When I met Jesus...
Only a few years later, I attended a Vacation Bible School (super cheesy I know), and during their invitation time with my group, I found myself walking toward the front of the room.  I was not sure why, but I merely felt a tug on my heart that being in relationship with Jesus was the purpose of our lives here on Earth.  It was like that missing piece that I did not even know was missing was finally in my grasp.  Little did I know, my father was attending a Promise Keepers event in Atlanta, GA and during the same week he encountered Christ for the first time.  He too chose to follow Christ with his life, giving me the push I needed to follow in his footsteps and be baptized into the faith.  There is just something about a father son relationship that brought us together that day and I will never forget it.

After I met Jesus...
Although I was now in relationship with the savior of the world, I was quickly learning that there were a lot of problems in this world and I was going to have to suffer through a lot.  Just a few years later we were relocated away from our church home back up north to Illinois.  This was especially hard for our family because we truly felt our family was in Florida, but we chose to trust God and he brought us, as a family, to Bloomington-Normal, IL.  We then found a church home at Eastview Christian Church and me with OASIS Student Ministries.  These years in Junior High and High School are what led me to believe that the Lord was calling me into vocational full-time ministry.  Before this was able to happen, I had to endure some suffering.  During my 8th Grade & Freshman year of high school, I struggled with severe anxiety and depression.  It was a long battle that God led me through, but as he finally did, he set on my heart that I would never allow a student to feel inferior or worthless.  But now it was my job to teach students of the hope and power that comes through a relationship with the living God.  Through much prayer and conversations with men I trust, I came to the conclusion that I would pursue a degree in youth ministry from Cincinnati Christian University.  It was at this point that Jesus truly made me into the man I am today.  At college, I was given the opportunity to work with Bloc Ministries in Price Hill and for some reason he gave me a hurt for the intercity students in Cincinnati.  Not to mention he allowed me the privilege to marry the most amazing partner in ministry Jennifer Schroeder (#31012).  As I continued on my journey the Lord led me to Groesbeck United Methodist Church and CHAOS//SM to do ministry alongside Benji Sayre and the rest of the staff at Groesbeck.  TO BE CONTINUED...

As I look back at my story I hope that it will change of the lives of those who read it, not because it is about me, but because it will show people the power of the cross and the redemption that is found in a relationship with Jesus.  I pray that as you read this you begin to write your story for the Lord is speaking to you everyday and even today he is adding a line to the poem that is our lives.


till another day,



normallyINDIE

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Down to Single Digits...

If you have been following either or our blogs for the last year and a half you know that Jennifer Schroeder of Turquoise Feathers and Alec Tod of normallyINDIE are tying the knot in just 9 days.  This marks the end of a very long journey that began way back when in October of 2008 when I first laid eyes of my future bride.  It has been a long 3.5 years since that first day we met, but we have made it here and I could not be happier.

Not only is this a journey that is coming to an end, but it is launching a much longer journey that was ordained by God.  It is launching into and eternity of love that we will be spending together.  An eternity of love that will be modeled after the unconditional love that is found in the arms of Jesus Christ.

But that is all good and swell, but it has not been an easy road to get to where we are today.  It has taken growth, a humble spirit, prayer, love, and commitment to get to where we are today.  But most of all it has taken sacrifice.  Not the easy stuff that most people think of like giving up the remote, food choices, money, or radio stations (although all of those do happen), it has taken the denying of myself for the betterment of my bride.  For she is just that, my bride that, like Jesus does for the church, I must sacrifice myself for her betterment.  It takes the sacrifice of dreams, future plans, and job choices for the betterment of her.  But I know what many of you will say, why would anyone get married when you have to give up everything that you hold dear and I would have this to say to the skeptic.  There is nothing like giving up everything for another person, only for them to do the same for you.  Just as I have given up my dreams, future, and jobs for the betterment of Jennifer, Jennifer has denied herself only to support me.  She has sacrificially trusted the Lord with our relationship even to the point of moving from her home for the past 22 years to start a new home with me here in Cincinnati, OH.  She did not do so because there was something in it for her or because she was forced, it did so because she, like me, has chosen everyday to deny herself for me.

That is why people who fall in love, stay with one another for all of eternity.  They have realized that they must wake up everyday and deny themselves for the betterment of the love of their lives.  For there is nothing better than giving your life to someone and them doing the same.

So as I prepare to read my vows of promise to my future bride, today I vow that I will deny myself for Jennifer only to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.


till another day,




normallyINDIE

Time for a Change...

The last three months have brought a lot of excitement to Jennifer and I's life.  We have been given the opportunity to live in a great apartment in the heart of Cincinnati, I have started the perfect job for me at Groesbeck United Methodist Church as their Community Youth Pastor, and not to mention we are getting married in just 10 days.  With all of this has come a lot of excitement, sadness, and change, but despite all of this the Lord seems to always speak through those around us to encourage, lift up, and prove to us that he is in control.

This past sunday at Groesbeck we were blessed with the opportunity of hearing our denominational leaders speak to us in regards to what 5 things we do great, what 5 things we do not so great, and what 5 things will change our church for the better.  They called the latter 5 prescriptions to bring this congregation out of a plateau and into a substational incline.  For many people this can seem threatening, a group of outsiders telling us how to run our church, not gonna lie that is how I felt at the beginning.  But I realized that all good businesses and organizations must go through a period of guidance and it is a huge blessing to have talented people help us reach more and more people with the gospel.  I began to realize that my pride was hindering us from truly reaching the 2,200 students that go to Colerain HS for the gospel.  But the Lord has given us a second chance to become a church that is most worried about the thousands of people that have never set foot in our doors, instead of the 300 that call this place home.

These prescriptions are not only a challenge, but they are just that a cure for the decline we have been facing.  Although there could be a thousand reasons for where we are at as a church currently, those no longer matter.  God has given us an amazing chance to take what we have been given, trust in him and run with it wholeheartedly.

For all of those that are reading this from Groesbeck UMC I promise to you all that no matter what happens on March 25th, I have trusted in the Lord with CHAOS//SM and in whatever direction he believes we should take it is the direction that it will be going.  I have began running toward the Lord and I hope to bring as many of you a long as I can and I truly believe that these 5 prescriptions are like getting a brand new pair of running shoes.  The Lord has given us an advantage, a head start, for this race he calls "spreading the gospel" and we need to tie those laces and start running.



till another day,



normallyINDIE