A Strange Family

I come from a very different family. I grew up with three younger brothers. For the most part we all got along very well. Some times better than others but thats just how brothers are. About a year ago my parents became foster parents for four other kids. I really grew up with these four, (Three girls and a boy), so they were already like family to me. So now I am the oldest of eight kids, five boys three girls. We are a very unusual bunch, my father ensures that…. He has a slightly twisted sense of humor that seems to bring us all together and teaches us all to have a great time just hanging out with each other and being a family.

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Truly a Focused Experience

Ok it has been quite some time since I have returned home from Colorado Springs and my time spent at the Focus Leadership Institute. I wanted to sit back and give a brief overview of what all that experience was like. For many of my friends back home it can still seem like a mystery as to what that time period really was for me. And I think that is partly my fault. When I came back there were a lot of people that were really glad to see me back home and kept asking what it was like and what I learned. I found it very difficult to answer their questions very effectively because God was still doing a work on my heart and I was not entirely sure about what had taken place.

My time at FLI was truly a life-altering experience that has grown me like no other experience. I have spoken to a few of people about that experience and I am met with the ?I?m not so sure I really want to go back to school.?

Lets back up and start from the beginning.

My senior year of college I was looking for something to do after school. I knew that I was tired of being here and wanted to just go somewhere. I prayed about a few different programs, but the more information I found out about FLI the more interested I was in attending. Getting everything ready to leave was difficult for me. I had never been that far away from home before and it kinda scared me. My family had struggled financially a lot growing up and the past few years there were a few events that had taken place that had drained my savings. I had no idea where I was going to get the funding to go. But God provided the way for me to go. There was Tuition assistance, and fundraising available. But that was just God opening the door showing me that it was where He wanted me to go.

But the true transformation took place while I was there. I really did not know what to expect going out there. But God completely transformed my thinking, and my relationship with Him. I can honestly say that I am not the same person today that I was when I left. I grew in my understanding of God, scripture, and how to live out biblical community.

The biggest piece of the FLI experience was Koinonia. The community that was developed there at FLI. Forty Five students that lived together, taking the same classes, eating meals together, sitting in our apartments reading and studying together. All of us were leaders that came out to learn and be trained in how to lead. It really is an interesting dynamic how so many leaders can come together and live life together relating on a level that is truly amazing. Its really hard to put to words. My home church back here in Charlotte does a pretty good job within our care groups caring for each other and living in that community that we as Christians need in our daily lives. But having come back I have seen certain areas that need work or areas that are just not there. To that I cannot really do very much to change that. The community at FLI really is amazing and it?s rare to find anything like that anywhere else. It is somewhat of a simulated community, but still one that is very educational and teaches you many life lessons. It sets a bar that for the rest of my life I will be striving to meet once again, but really is a special one and honestly will not likely ever be seen again elsewhere. Many of my classmates have discussed how when they got home, they tried to share that type of community in their home churches and schools. ?They just don?t get it? is the typical response. And it leaves us really desiring more.

The classes at FLI are truly amazing. Learning day in and day out about how to live life as a Christian, from Marriage and Family class to My Identity in Christ, to Developing a Christian Worldview. Reading books every night by some of the best authors I have ever read, and discussing it with some of my closest friends. There is so much of what I learned that I am still unpacking and analyzing and will continue to do for the rest of my life.

The professors at FLI are amazing as well. They all dedicate their lives to serving and caring for the students. They open their homes and their lives to live in that Koinonia and pour into the lives of the students.

That?s just a brief summary of FLI. It really was a life changing experience that I am so very thankful for. I now understand better of who I am in Christ, how to live life as best as I can for Christ. I left NC in September of 2010 not really knowing what to expect arriving with 43 strangers to a place none of us had ever been before. And left that place that following December with 43 of my closest friends to return home to live out everything we had been taught. It an experience that helped to define who I am today, and I would not ever trade for anything in the world today.

If your interested in hearing more about it, I would be more than ecstatic to share more with you.

Journal on Boundaries in Dating

This is a journal entry I made for my Marriage and Family Class at FLI:

Well todays reading was based out of the book boundaries in dating by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I am not really a big fan of this book at all. First began reading this book almost a month ago, just picked it up and started reading it. It immediately struck a nerve as I began reading through the introduction titled “Why Dating”. The Authors completely slammed Joshua Harris and His book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and the whole courtship process. The way they discuss this topic in the introduction did not leave a very good impression on me for how they treat relationships. First of all it is just bad conduct to slam another author’s book in the beginning of your book on a similar topic. And it does not show very good Christian practices to do so in a book on dating. But they also use bad logic in the process of creating a case against Josh’s book. Example: “Person A dated person B, person A or B or both got hurt, {therefore} dating is bad.” That basically boils down everything that Josh has compiled into a single formula and states that is the entire thesis for Josh’s book, which is not accurate at all. It appears to me that they were just trying to come up with some kind of thing to use against a popular Christian author to try and generate some sort of publicity. But just the entire way they bash Josh’s book just leaves a very bad taste in my mouth and really gives me a bad predisposition about the rest of the book.

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The Journey

As I look back on the past year I can see that it has been a long journey getting here to Focus Leadership Institute.  It all started during my junior year of college (Jan 2008). I was working a full-time job at a local IT-Consulting company in the area, while pulling a full load of classes at UNC-Charlotte. I worked my way through school and worked very hard juggling both roles.  I knew that I wanted to take a break and get away from things for a little while and had thought about going back home after I graduated. My mom had heard about the Institute on the radio and thought it would be good for me to attend.

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