Worlds of Fun…and Oceans too!

August 19, 2013

What is better than spending a day at Worlds of Fun with students?  Also making the short walk over to Oceans of Fun.  Yesterday I spent the day with 12 students experience the fun that these parks have to offer.  As only God would have it, the day was perfect.  We started the day asking for God to keep us safe and provide a great experience for all the students.  We knew there was much joy to be had, so we wanted to know that was God was present amidst the thrills!  The forecast was sunny and warm, with a nice breeze to keep us cool.  The park traffic was light now that school is back in session for many of the Kansas City area schools, so we had short wait times.  We were able to make the most of our 7 hours!

We all started at Worlds of Fun riding many of the thrill rides.  My favorite has always been the Mamba, and I think it still holds true!

mamba_02

We had a few stops before the Mamba of course which included the Patriot to start our day.  If you don’t know about the Patriot, it is a unique ride at Worlds of Fun, with many upside down loops and seats that allow your feet dangle below as you fly around the turns.  You can see a ride along video here.  Then it was onto the Timberwolf and Detonator before the Mamba.  I will say the Mamba wait tested our patience, first it was a dropped item below the cars that they retrieved, then it was a guest illness they had to clean up.  Of course the wait just built the energy all the while finding the patience and just enjoying the company of friends.  After the Mamba a couple students took on the Boomerang.  You can watch their ride here…

After my experience last year, I decided I didn’t want to feel out of sync the remainder of the day so I passed.  Following the Boomerang it was onto the Prowler before we took a break for lunch, which was a much needed refueling!  For the guys it was onto Oceans of Fun.  We all had our fair share of roller coasters and decided it would be a nice and refreshing taking on the water slides and tube rides.  It was unanimous that our favorite set of slides were the Predator’s Plunge.  The photo below best depicts the surprise of the drop floor that sends you plunging into the tube below at a high speed.

wofSLIDE_20120831145749_640_480

It doesn’t quite capture the full story, but if you can imagine being enclosed in a capsule while leaning slightly back and waiting “patiently” for the 3 second countdown before the floor drops out below you, it makes for a great ride!  Until you reach the end you are in an tube the entire time, turning many directions with water flying in your face for all of 30 seconds before you reach the opening at the end.

SONY DSC

We hit all of the different rides available at Oceans of Fun, including a stop at the Wave Pool; who doesn’t love a good ole’ wave pool?  The mid afternoon spell at the water attractions provided a good break from the high speed roller coasters, but it was time for us to finish out the day with a few last rides at Worlds.  We headed as an entire group to the Prowler, the Mamba and onto the Patriot.  The photo below says it all…

IMG950673

Smiles galore!  The fun was had by all and it was a great way to spend a Sunday.  The students were so appreciative of the opportunity to go and I was thankful for the time with them.  I continue to be reminded during days like these of why God has placed me on this journey.  I cherish the relationships I have developed in serving the students and continually hope for more opportunities like these to get to know students.  By the end of the 14 hour day, the students were still going strong, especially those in my car who decided to end our ride with a fun jam session to the Lion King soundtrack!  For those of you who know me, it’s all about singing as though no one were listening.  I thank God for the “Worlds of Fun” and “Oceans of Fun” He brings into our lives.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence

and the pleasures of living with you forever.”    ~    Psalm 16:11


Step by Step!

August 13, 2013

It started two weeks as I was on vacation in Estes Park, Colorado, home of Rocky Mountain National Park.  I took time away after a busy week of serving alongside 180 volunteers while reaching out to 643 children and their families at Vacation Bible School.  For the kids it was vacation, but it was now my time.  I went into this trip wondering how God would speak to me in the time away.  As I had mentioned in my previous post, Retreat & Refocus, it is important to create space for God to speak to us.  This week was all about creating extra space for God to speak to me, and the same was true for my friends Philip and Dustin!  We were excited to camp and hike, rest and relax, recreate and refresh!

2013-07-30 15.22.34

As our journey began the first day, it was evident we were prepared to experience God’s presence the entire week.  Each hike we took began with a walking prayer, there were plenty of times within a hike where we just soaked in God’s presence as we viewed His awesome creation!  It was by no accident either that we found ourselves praising Him throughout the week for the great weather and timing for our destination decisions.  Many of you know that out in RMNP there tend to be afternoon showers and in the summer the weather can be somewhat unpredictable.  We were blessed with great hiking conditions throughout our 5 days on the trail!

Alpenglow Pano

So much so we found ourselves thanking God continuously on our journeys to new places.  We traveled nearly 45 miles by foot with a cumulative elevation gain of 13,000′.  When you consider this, I think you know what I mean when I say, ‘Step by Step’!  I couldn’t help but sing a part of the theme song from the 90’s tv show, which starts, “Step by step, day by day, fresh start over…”.  You can only imagine the joy this brought to my friends Phil and Dustin(our worship leader)?!

Of course, when I really started to think about what was happening on these treks into the wilderness, I realized God was speaking directly to a challenge I have been facing in the past couple of years.  At times I find myself overwhelmed with the workload of wearing many different hats and it can be difficult to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s.  With God’s grace and power, there have been many details that I have entrusted to Him and He has shown continued blessing.  The times where I have released control asking for His abundance, have been a great example of the way He works in our lives.  He provides freedom from such burdens, as stated in scripture, “for my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30)

Spectacle

Knowing this and applying this to my life has continually given me peace amidst the storm of busyness that I often find myself caught in the middle.  I know and believe that I am totally incapable of completing all the tasks ahead.  The truth beyond this is that I don’t have to be able to complete everything today, because it is in our life which we find God walking alongside of us, step by step, encouraging us and guiding us to move forward, to grow, to do the work He has set out for us with an understanding that His plan will always prevail!

My duty is to hear His voice and take the steps He is calling me too.  As easy as that may sound, this is an area where it is far to easy to listen to our own voice, or voices of others, which ultimately drive our activity and can lead us down a path of being heavy burdened.  God has placed a vision on my heart that as I know, will be an ongoing process of small steps, leading to many seasons of fruit bearing.  In the present time, I must begin to find ways to take small steps, just as we did while hiking each day, moving to the bigger purpose and vision for which God has called me too.

There is a modern day parable that relates in so many ways, but the most simple yet profound Word God was speaking to me is that He has given me a vision to see where He may have me go, as for the hike this is the destination.  The only way to live out the vision, or reach the destination is to start moving forward, step by step.  As we travel toward the vision laid on our hearts, we will find some sections of the trail to be easier than others, some requiring a lot more concentration than others(i.e. the “Homestretch” to Summit Long’s Peak pictured here).

Long's Peak Homestretch

Some sections we will be able to stop and take a glimpse of what God is up to, rest, refresh, prepare for the next section.  We will overcome certain challenges along the way that we may have never faced before,  such as summiting 3 mountains in 2 days!  Many times along the way we will need to refuel; you know water, clif bars, a sandwich…you name it!  Sometimes we will push ourselves beyond the limits, such as blazing our own trail to the backside of Bluebird Lake to see the waterfall that fed into it out of the mountainous backdrop.

Bluebird Waterfall                           Bluebird

To put this all into perspective, there was such an awe factor as we reached our destination each day, looking out over all of God’s creation with our eyes set upon where we had come from, knowing that the journey was worth the destination.  I think in the step by step, we each knew the value of stopping every so often to take it in, there was more to the hike than the destination.  It was the small glimpses of beauty along the way, that we could celebrate and enjoy.  Isn’t that what our life is all about, the journey that leads us closer and closer to our eternal life with God?  We inherently know that no matter what it is we are working towards in our lives, it is the destination that we celebrate.  I look forward to the destination of eternal life with the God who created, who sent His son to die for us and who continues to love us each and every day.  While I live my life on this earth, I know and understand that it is a step by step journey for which I will experience challenges and successes, sadness and joy, good and bad.  For this I continue to reminded of the comfort of scripture,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”- Hebrews 12:1-2

Let’s live this life STEP BY STEP, with our hearts set on the vision for what is ahead, that reminds us of why we must continue moving forward to our eternal destination!