Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Time Apart...

I have been blessed to be in relationship with the most caring, loving, compassionate, creative, wonderful, exciting, generous, perfect person in the world for the last 28 months.  If you know me at all you know that I am referring to my wonderful soon to be wife, Jennifer Schroeder.  We have been together for 28 wonderful months and in this time we have had to spend 19 of those months apart.  She has been in Indianapolis, I have been in Cincinnati.  For a short amount of time it looked like we would be close again, (my internship at Emmanuel Church of Greenwood), but that changed when I was blessed to serve at Groesbeck United Methodist Church here in Cincinnati.  Do not get me wrong, I am so honored to be serving at this place where lives are being changed daily and I have the ability to speak into the lives of students and get to call it my "job".  But there is still something missing.

My heart is somewhere else and it is in Indianapolis with my wonderful fiancĂ©.  It is something that only those who are in love would understand, but when you are apart there is such a sense of loneliness it is sometimes unbearable.  We will be getting married on March 10th and the long wait of separation will finally be over.  Looking at that date does not make the days ahead any easier.  Jennifer will be finishing school and I starting work here in Cincinnati doing what we both love, but it is so hard to do with the other to share it with.

If I can be totally transparent, this is something I struggle.  I struggle with the question of why would God put us doing such great things, but apart.  I do not understand.  I know in the scheme of a lifetime these last couple of months are not going to mean anything, but right now it feels like an eternity.  It feels like part of my soul is somewhere else.

What I have come to understand over these wonderful 28 months is that it is a journey and God is only preparing us for our life together.  A life of ministry, love, compassion, hope, joy, sadness, and once again love.  God has ordained us to be in these places for this time for a reason and right now I am searching for the reason why.

As explained by Francis Chan in his most recent book Erasing Hell, we are merely the clay being molded for a much better purpose by the potter.  It is outrageous to think that we have a say in what the final piece of work the potter is creating.  But this unknown is hard to handle.

In these last couple of months I am merely going to pray.  Pray for God's leadership, guidance and growth.  And most of all I will be anxiously awaiting the day when Jennifer and I can begin our life together.  Nothing excites me more than that day.  This feeling is something I never thought I would feel, but God has blessed me with the opportunity to truly feel love.  A love that transcends the distance between Indianapolis and Cincinnati and a love that will truly endure whatever life throws at us.

I anxiously await the day that I can call her my wife and I can love and serve her for the rest of my life.

till THAT day,


Book Review - Erasing Hell by Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle...

If you are a Christian Nerd like me or a church leader of any sorts you probably been bombarded with the argument about the after life in recent months.  There have been countless blog posts, status updates, and book written in response to the controversial book LoveWins by Rob Bell earlier this year.  I recently spent the time reading one of these responses entitled Erasing Hell by Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle.  Being a fan of Chan's recent Basic DVD series I thought I would pick up this bit of light reading to see what he had to say regarding the topic of Hell and the after life in general.

All in all, I really was not impressed with the writing as a whole.  I thought it lacked the quality authorship that Rob Bell and other scholars have on the topic.  It seemed that Chan & Sprinkle were simply trying to make a response to the book LoveWins that would be readily available to the everyday Christian reading.  I would have liked  him to go much deeper on the topic and instead of focusing so much on the importance of the topic or on his disgrace with Bell, I would have enjoyed some deeper scholarly insight into the issue.

This book was not all bad, it has some great insight and questions regarding the character of God and how it is perceived by non-christians.  It is described that for a  non-christian it may be difficult for them to understand a God that wouldn't accept all into his holy place called heaven.  I did enjoy the chapter regarding the clay and the potter.  Much of the time we, being the clay, do believe that we can design the pot, but that would be ridiculous.  For God is the potter and his divine hands are the one's molding this world.  Therefore, as Jesus states in the first chapter of Acts, we are not to know the time and place of God's actions.  This lack of control is something that must be considered when we are trying to live this life of sanctification and justification.

This book was an interesting look at the topic of Hell, but I would have enjoyed some deeper insight into the issue of Hell.  Because I am not a fan of responsive writings, it made it difficult to dive deep into the text.  If I were you I would grab the book LoveWins, Erasing Hell, and your bible translation of choice and pray that God will lead you to a biblically based interpretation of the issue of the afterlife.  For all of these ideas lie in scripture and must be prayerfully considered by each individual Christian.  Happy Studying.

till another day,


Book Review - Redemption by Mike Wilkerson...

As of recently I have spent some time being engaged by the Re:Lit group that is a part of the Crossway Publishing Company.  Begin by Pastor Mark Driscoll, this program was built to collect a group of writers that are committed to speaking the truth about spiritual, biblical, and societal issues in a text format.  Many of you may recognize this from the popular book Doctrine by Mark Driscoll.  Although this book is on my list to read/purchase it is not the book I found myself reading recently.  Instead, I got my hands on Redemption by Mike Wilkerson.  Mike is a pastor at Seattle's Mars Hill Church (which Mark Driscoll calls home as well) and he lead their counseling program.  With this in mind, I felt the author would bring a fresh perspective to the problem of pain that so many authors have tried to tackle over the years.

The format being some what interesting began with the author diving into the story of the the Israelites and their problem with suffering, idol worship, and death.  Intermixed with this biblical story from the Old Testament are real life stories of christians and non-christians alike who are struggling with a God that not only allows suffering in this world, but has allowed suffering to take over their lives.  The pages are covered in the tears and blood of those who are suffering because of the sins and destruction of this world.  But what this book doesn't do is point the finger at each individual person's sin, instead, it focuses on the hope and redemption that can be found through a relationship with Christ and his church.  It calls those who are suffering fall on their knees in prayer and call on the hope of a savior that died for their sins.  It also calls the church to have arms open wide for those who are suffering to come running.  The author's writers calls the church to get out of the judgement seat and instead kneel down with those who are suffering and love them.

I could not agree more with this idea.  I have dealt with problems of suffering myself, as well as been involved with people who are suffering through personal sin, addictions, and other "idols" that seem to steal their worship.  I have been encouraged to not only kneel down with these people, but to allow them to share the burdens they feel on the shoulders of the church.  For the church is supposed to be a place of redemption and hope.  Right now the church is a place of judgement and condemnation and I do not want to be that type of Christian.  I am constantly in prayer that God will change me and allow the redemption of the cross to flow through me.

If you are struggling with suffering, the problem of pain, or any other afflictions please speak with someone you trust or speak with me through twitter: @normallyINDIE or Facebook: Alec Tod.

till another day,


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Posing as a Photographer...

A couple of months ago I posted a few of my pictures that I have been taking using the iPhone app Instagram.  Many of you follow me on there already, but if not you can check me out with the username: normallyindie or check out this post for a couple of my favorites.

Happy Browsing.

Jennifer was leading worship at the MovementSM Leadership Trip

Just some good old fashion people watching at IUPUI

1 of 46 murals in Downtown Indy right now.  One of my favorites.

Yadi after winning the World Series.  Just signified the great relief that was the World Series win.

Homemade Clock out of a book from Jennifer.  The Best Christmas Present I got.

Shepard Fairey Piece on our Apartment Building.  Downtown Cincy.

My first cup of coffee back at Corner Bloc Coffee Shop in Price Hill
These were just a couple of my favorite pictures over the last couple of months.  Like I said keep checking up for updates on this blog as well as follow me on Instagram @normallyindie as I attempt to take cool, hip pictures.

till another day,


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Home, Sweet, Home...

As I have gone on a blogging spree to catch up from a long eventful break, you all must know that Jennifer and I have moved from Indiana to Ohio recently (I live here now Jennifer will be joining me after we get married in March and she currently is living in Indy still).  On December 30th, we officially moved into a new home on the corner of 8th & Main in Downtown Cincinnati.  It is a dream home for us, a 2 bedroom apartment (1 for us 1 for Jennifer's studio), that is on top of a business in the heart of downtown.  With that being said I would like to give you a little outline of the place and some of our favorite parts.

As you approach the front door, you see that it is purple, which is just awesome.
Our Front Door
You then walk up the 4 flights of stairs to get to the top floor and open the door to  our entryway which includes three great windows that overlook the canopy of Arnold's Restaurant (oldest in Cincinnati) as well as a full scale reading room complete with a tiger rug, wingback chairs, and loads of books.  Not to mention this the room that the bathroom is located, which is important to know.

Reading Room
Continuing through the apartment you head into the dining/living room that has some great future and wood flooring from the early 1900s.  We will be adding internet and a much bigger TV in the near future.
Living Room/Dining Room

You then turn right into the kitchen complete with new floors, countertops, loads of storage, and new appliances.  The old cabinets and pantry are both things that Jennifer and I loved.

Continuing to the end of the tour is the bedroom on the left and Jennifer's studio on the right.  Her studio is a work in progress as she has not fully moved in just yet, but I am sure that all things Turquoise Feathers will be taking over that place.  The bedroom features a queen bed which we just purchased thanks to Grandma Jeanie.  We have collected some great furniture pieces from both of Jennifer's grandmothers, but we are still looking for a rug and another dresser to accommodate Jennifer.
Our Bedroom
Jennifer's Studio
Well that is a small tour of our apartment as it is today.  There will be continued updates as time goes by and if you would like to come visit let Jennifer and I know and we would love to have you.

till another day,


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Are you a Pastor?...

As many of you all know (if there are any readers out there) I have begun working at Groesbeck United Methodist Church in Colerain Township this past week.  Much of this week was filled with logistics, meetings, meals, and get to know you's.  But something fascinating happened that final day of the week and it had nothing to do with office work, sermon watching, podcast listening or anything of the sorts.

Instead it was a knock on the back door of the church with a man standing in the doorway cold and concerned.  The man's name was Darryl and he was simply asking for a pastor of the church.  Stupidly, I looked around to see if I could find a pastor that work there, only soon to remember that I just assumed that position just a few days ago.  After looking around I said I was just that.  He then explained himself and his situation, explaining to me that he was told that were churches around this area and he simply needed someone to pray for him.  He just had a good feeling about this place and when he saw the car in the parking lot, he thought he should ask.  So I took Darryl's hands, cold as could be, and began praying for him.  Trembling with fear and sadness I listened to him say, "Yes, Lord" & "Amen".  And it was in that moment that I realized the power there is in being a minister of God's church and more importantly the power of prayer to our mighty Lord.

Upon meeting Darryl and learning that he wanted a pastor to pray for him I remember thinking well I can pray for you, but that is not going to help, maybe I can find food or water or money.  But as I think more and more about the situation, prayer is the exact thing that he should ask for and especially needed in that situation.  If there was anyone or anything that could comfort Darryl it was the warmth that can be found in the hands of God.  I am so happy that I ignored my ignorant feelings and continued to pray for Darryl.

I never want to get to the point in my ministry that I feel that the work of the Lord is better in my hands and the physical remedies are much stronger than prayer.  The Lord is not only the center of the ministry that I am honored to be a part of, but he "is" the ministry I am honored to be a part of.

Although Darryl did not drop to his knees at that very moment and accept Christ, I do know that he was met with the face of the church at that moment.  I have no idea where Darryl is tonight, but I do know that when he sees the GUMC doors he will remember that we are here for him.  And although I may never see Darryl again, I will be praying for him and it reminded me of the honor and responsibility that comes with being called a Pastor of our mighty Lord's church.

till another day,


Monday, January 2, 2012

Natural Ohioans...

As of December 30th Jennifer and were no longer Hoosier (I was an honorary Hoosier, Normalian, Floridian, and Missourian), but we are now Ohioans.  We moved into our new apartment on 8th & Main in Downtown Cincinnati.  Naturally, after 3 days, we have become experts at our surrounding areas and all the happenings in Cincinnati.  Therefore, here are a couple of our favorite place we have been so far and places that we hope to venture to in the very near future.

Within Walking Distance
Cincy by the Slice
Fountain Square
Arnold's Restaurant
Algin Furniture
Ohio Bookstore
Coffee Emporium
Artist Materials
Findlay Market

Little Bit of a Drive
Habitat for Humanity Restore
Bloc Thrift Store
Corner Bloc Coffee
Esquire Theatre

Okay so we still have some work to do to be considered official Ohioans, but you have to admit we are getting there.  As for our plans, I have moved into our new apartment full time, start my job at GUMC tomorrow morning, and upon our wedding on Saturday March 10th Jennifer will be joining me here in Cincy.  As she finishes school she will be part time in Indy from Monday - Wednesday, then the rest of the weeks in Cincy until our Graduation weekend May 12th - 13th.

We will continue to do some searching and I am sure I will continue to update with reviews and place to go as we continue the transition from the great state of Indiana to the great state of Ohio.

till another day,


The Best of 2011...

January seems to be the season of new beginnings there always seems to be a moment of reminiscing.  For me, 2011 was a long year of a change, heartbreak, and growth; not to mention fun, excitement and great adventures.  So I have compiled a couple of lists of some of my favorite happenings of 2011.  Here they are: 

Top Albums
1.  Simple Math - Manchester Orchestra 
2.  21 - Adele 
3.  Jack's Mannequin - People & Things 

Top Songs
1.  Virgin - (Simple Math) Manchester Orchestra  
2.  Pumped Up Kicks - (Torches) Foster the People    
3.  You are a Tourist - (Codes & Keys) Death Cab for Cutie 

Top Movies 
1.  Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 
2.  Water for Elephants  
3.  Midnights in Paris 

Top TV Shows 
1.  How I Met Your Mother - CBS
2.  Scrubs - FOX/ABC
3.  The OC - FOX

Top Reads 
1.  Simply Christian - N.T. Wright 
2.  A Grief Observed - C.S. Lewis 
3.  Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - J.K. Rowling 

Top Events 
1.  Our Tattoos - by TJ Harmon (8 total) 
2.  Moving to Cincy/New Apartment
3.  Remembering Family 

Top Purchases 
1.  iPhone  
2.  Our Antique Stuff 
3.  Urban Outfitters Shopping Spree 

Top Internship Moments 
1.  McTuesdays 
2.  Dallas 2011 
3.  The Brew 

Top Check ins 
1.  Qdoba (US 135 in Greenwood) 
2.  Strange Brew (Smith Valley Rd in Greenwood)   
3.  Brass Ring Lounge (Shelby St. in Fountain Square, IN)

Top Sports
1.  Cardinal's Playoff Run 
2.  Colts Sad year (2 - 14 in 2011) 
3.  Butler's March Madness (Part 2)   

Top Experiences 
1.  Interviews
2.  My week at UO
3.  Handcraft Fests 

Top Hashtags
1.  #Awkward
2.  #love
3.  #11in11 

Top Apps 
1.  Twitter 
2.  Instagram 
3.  ESPN ScoreCenter 

Those were a couple of lists to help guide you through the next year.  Each of these things were great and special in their own way and I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to share most of these with my fiancĂ© Jennifer Schroeder.  

We have a big year planned here in 2012 with a new job, new city, our Wedding, and Graduations, just to name a few.  Be following along here at for updates, insights, and thoughts about this beautiful we call home (until the good Lord returns to save us all).  

till another day, 



For all of my readers out there, it was just 3.5 short years ago when I headed to CCU and spent decided to plunge into the bible college lifestyle.  Although it wasn't what you all may have thought (bible studies, candle ceremonies, and prayer circles), it was an experience that I will never forget.

My time here at CCU I have met some great people who have come and gone, had some great times, some great food, not to mention met the love of my life (Jennifer Schroeder) who I will have the honor of marrying on March 10th of this year.  For those of you who have been a part of my life during this season you will understand these events and here are just a couple that were the highlights:

The Hillsong Concert
Blackout 08
Room 447
4 North
Rine Open Dorms
Urban Active
Fountain Square
Cliff Jumping Part 1 & 2
October 16, 2009
Ed in Australia
Corner Bloc Coffee Shop
Vineyard Tri-County
Vineyard Small Group
Fall Weekend
Family Dinners
Bloc Staff Meetings
Bro Time on the Bridge
Ty & Jerm's Dorm Room
the Hilltop
Purple Thunder
October 7th, 2010
Ghetto Walmart
Late Night Bball with T-Cad
Graduation - May 12th, 2012

Coming Soon - March 10th, 2012 "Our Big Day"

Each of these events have a special place in my heart and the people that I shared these events with have helped to shape the person that I am today.  I am so excited to have met you all and especially to continue in a relationship with you for the rest of my life.  Thank you for the time that we have had and I look forward to seeing where we all go in the future.

love you all

till another day,