ARTICLES & INSPIRATION

Consider a gap year

Colleges are now encouraging graduating high-school students to take a gap year before they enter university. Students may find it challenging to center in on a specific major and tend to vacillate; often switching several times before choosing a career path.  

Joe O’shea from Inside Higher Ed said this: “[Students]...should think about taking a gap year, to defer college for a year to live and volunteer in a developing country. In the traditional sort of gap year, students immerse themselves in a developing community to volunteer with a nonprofit organization by teaching, working with local youth, or assuming some other community role. Gap years have been rising in popularity in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere. I’ve spent the last few years researching what happens to young people when they have such an immersive experience in a community radically different from their own.The answer, in short, is that gap years can help change students in ways the world needs.The challenges of our time demand an educational system that can help young people to become citizens of the world. We need our students to be smart, critical and innovative thinkers but also people of character who use their talents to help others. Gap years help young adults understand themselves, their relationships, and the world around them, which deepens capacities and perspectives crucial for effective citizenship. They help students become better thinkers and scholars, filled with passion, purpose, and perspective.” (Read more here)

Through Go International’s Submerge program we are helping young people discover their passions and focus themselves towards their goals.  Unlike other volunteer programs; Submerge combines both practical teaching and volunteerism giving students the opportunity to both serve and learn. Each day the Submerge team plays a direct role in the service efforts of Go International.

Kristen Tideman from University of Pittsburgh decided to take a semester off of school to join the Submerge Program.  She said about her decision, “ I decided to take a semester off when I realized that some of the best opportunities seem like the crazies ones; it doesn't seem logical to take a break with only one semester left to go before graduating, but I had been questioning for a long time as to why I was even in college in the first place. I had undoubtedly succumbed to the idea that college was the only logical option after high school. I became frustrated when after two years I still didn't have a solid idea of what to do, maybe even less of an idea than I had in high school when the possibilities are all open. With the opportunity to step away from these societal pressures and the rat-race, if you will, I can see that many "successful" people have risen to places of influence by unconventional means. I can see that the accepted path of: college, and then work, and then **boom** ; happiness isn't realistic. Life doesn't happen according to a manual. Perhaps it is even in the risk-taking that we learn the lessons we've been hoping to encounter the whole time.”

If you have been struggling with choosing your career path, consider taking a semester to join Submerge and awaken your creative heart and soul.  You can read more about Submerge by clicking here.  

 

 

Painting in Yellow

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PAINTING IN YELLOW

The events that are told in this story are completely true. Sick. But true.

So, one day I am waiting my turn to go tanning and I start fiddling with the zipper on my purse. I’m zipping it back and forth to the tune of “jingle bells”- when I notice there is something in the pocket. I hadn’t used this purse in over a year. Now, most girls know that finding something hidden in the bottomless pockets of your purse can be very exhilarating. (Kind of like finding buried treasure.) We stuff all kinds of things in our purses and every once in awhile; you find something you haven’t seen in a really long time.

So that day, I reached deep inside my purse pocket and pulled out… a taco.

Yes, a taco.

Please don’t ask how it made it’s way into my purse. What was I thinking? “Oh, I have nowhere to put my taco. I know! (unzip). I’ll put it in my purse.” Honestly, I don’t know which is scarier, that I knowingly put a taco in my purse or that I have no memory of how it got there.

Do you want to know the really sick thing about the whole deal? Remember how I said that I hadn’t used the purse in over a year? The taco had been unknowingly nestled in my purse and was completely unscathed, like I had just ordered it an hour ago. No mold, no nasty stench- nothing. Just a greasy taco. In my purse. For over a year. (Can you say preservatives?)

Now, I’m not writing a diatribe about the inherent dangers of fast food (Although I think my story may cause you to wonder if it really is “more bueno” to grab a taco on the run.) What I really want to talk about is all the stuff we have deep inside our hearts that sits unused.

Let me explain.

Ever feel like your life doesn’t make much sense, like the things you want to do in life are kind of random? I know I have.

Recently I have been talking with a lot of young people who feel the same way. Their life just doesn’t fit into a neat package. “I want to be a painter and a missionary.” or “I feel a call to business and ministry.” They look at me in confusion and embarrassment as they share their hearts, their expressions revealing the turmoil within. They think it can’t possibly be right to do both.

Personally, I have always tried to embrace the season that God has me in. I simply do what I feel like He tells me to do. If He tells me to leave my job as a children’s pastor and take a job as a youth secretary halfway across the United States, I do it. My life may seem random to most. (Graphic artist, youth pastor, mission’s director, children’s pastor, youth secretary, drama instructor, painter, schoolteacher, fashion designer, writer, and wife are a few random titles I’ve held.) But now, at age twenty-nine and quickly closing the gap to age thirty, life is starting to make sense to me. What seemed disjointed is finally beginning to come together.

(If you are wondering when I was going to explain about what the taco has to do with all this- keep reading. It’s coming. )

In the midst of daily mundane living, the uniqueness of where God has us can be lost. I’ve thought about it lately like this: imagine a huge blank canvas. You pick up a tube of yellow paint and start painting away. Then you pick up a green tube, a little orange, and some purple and continue on with your masterpiece. No one thinks it’s weird to use different colors to paint. All the colors together make something beautiful in the end. It’s kind of like life. You may be painting in yellow right now and wondering what God is doing, maybe even feeling a little like He’s forgotten about the big dreams He told you about. Maybe you feel like you’ve been stuck in a holding pattern, a big merry-go-round of routine. Maybe you feel like you are doing a little of this and a little of that- and everything is pretty half hazard. Take a step back, Make sure you are still painting on the canvas (doing what God has spoken for this season) and see the big picture. God is doing something amazing with the details of your life. When you commit to obey the voice of God in each new season, you will one day look back and see the master design God has been painting all along.

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (New International Version)

You may feel like you’re all alone out there, living this segmented life of desires that God has placed in your heart. Well, you’re not alone. In fact, I have met a whole bunch of young people just like you. It seems that God is doing something new with this generation.

And it’s needed.

If you’re like me, there is something inside of you that wants to throw off labels and titles. Something that doesn’t want to be placed in a box. This new generation cries out to be recognized as a follower of Christ, void of titles and stigmas, to be assimilated into society. Kind of like Paul, who was a tentmaker, missionary, apostle, and servant. (Acts 18:3, Titus 1:1) This young generation is a group of creative people. They are multi-skilled. They are diverse. They are different- and they are not ashamed. There is a stirring in the hearts of this generation. A cry to be real. To embrace the call of God for their life- however different it may look.

So if you are wondering why you have been painting in yellow in this season, it is for the divine call that God has placed on this generation. You have a new task ahead of you and it is a call that only you can answer yourself. Will you rise up and embrace the call that God has on your life? Will you stand up and be different? Will you pave the way for generations to come? Don’t shrink back from who God has called you to be because you’ve never seen it modeled before. Unzip your potential and discover the treasure that has been locked deep within your heart…no, it’s not a taco. It’s you.


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

Pity the Fool

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“Can I come?”

Ah, the dreaded words that every kid who has a younger brother or sister hates to hear.   It’s 1983 and I am five years old and am about to go over to play at my friend Amy Gym’s house.  My little brother Mike wants to tag along.  Life is so not fair.

“No, you can’t come.” I said, aggravated. 

“Fine. Then I am going to go ask Mom.” He said turning on his heels towards the kitchen where my mom sat reading.

“No, Stop!” I pleaded, as frustrated tears welled up in my eyes. He was going to ruin everything if he came. “You can’t come!”

“Yeah, right.” He smirked.

“No really! You can’t because—“

Think fast, I told myself, or this is all over, and the little tag along is going to ruin everything.

“Because…um…because…” I stalled.

My brother snickered as he turned towards the kitchen.

“Because—Mr. T is coming over!” I screeched.

Silence filled the room as he turned around. His eyes widened as he took in the fullness of what I was saying.  His hero, Mr. T, was coming to our house.  Just incase you don’t know who Mr. T is, he was a television hero from the 80’s who would have given Chuck Norris a run for his money any day. 

“You’re kidding.” Mike whispered in awe.

“No.” I stepped towards him and solemnly whispered back. “I’m not.”

My eyes narrowed, as I took a deep breath and began to weave a magnificent lie, “Mom and Dad didn’t want me to tell you, because they didn’t want you to get too excited or anything, but Mr. T is coming over,” I looked down at the floor, as I tried not to smile. “Listen, I don’t want you to miss seeing him.” I glanced up. “But you can come with me to Amy’s house if you want to.” I smiled demurely.

“No thanks!” He smiled and ran to his room.

Yes! Another little brother catastrophe successfully averted.

I went to Amy’s house and played to my hearts content.  Well actually, I wound up coming home a little early because Amy spun me in circles on her tire swing for over an hour and then gave me some really gross candy from Europe. Since I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by spitting the candy out, I swallowed it whole. About five seconds after it went down, it came back up. I guess European candy and a spinning tire swing don’t mix well.

Amy’s mom drove me home.  I walked into my house and my mom was holding my little brother on the couch.  He turned his head toward me as I came through the front door. Uh-oh. Red rimmed eyes- not a good sign.  He buried his head into Mom as he sniffled a heartrending whimper.

“Why? Why would you do this to him?” she asked.

“What?” I asked nonchalantly.  Hey, I figured I was already in trouble, so what’s the use of admitting what I had done wrong until I absolutely had to. (I must add I was completely horrible!)

My mom sighed, “Lying to your brother about Mr. T. coming to the house, That is what.” She shook her head in disappointment, “Your brother cleaned his room.  He lined up all his matchbox cars around the room so that Mr. T could see them.  He’s been working for hours.”  Since my brother’s matchbox car collection ranged in the hundreds, if not thousands, he would have been working for a while.  I felt a twinge of guilt creep through my calloused heart. I actually felt a little bad for the little guy, or more aptly put in the words of the great Mr. T, “I pity the fool.”

So that evening, justice was rightfully served. If puking up Europe candy wasn’t enough punishment for one night, I got a good, sound spanking for lying to my brother.   In my defense, it was his choice to stay, right?  He chose to forgo hours of tag-along-fun with his big sister for a once in a lifetime chance to meet the extraordinary Mr. T.  (Who, of course, never showed up).  The thing with choices is inevitably you have to choose- one thing for another.  So what if you are like my little brother, and choose the wrong thing? What if you make a mistake? These are the fears that plague us.  Many times making choices can feel like grasping blindly  in darkness.  How do you know where to go? What to do?  In those “fork in the road” decision times in life, how do we know which way to turn?

Been talking to a lot of high school seniors lately, and wow, do they have it rough.  Graduating high school is one of the craziest things you can ever do.  One day, you wake up really early, you put on a funny little dress thingie, a weird hat, shake someone’s hand and they give you a piece of paper.  You smile, someone takes your picture and as soon as you walk off the stage it’s like a firing squad of questions, “So, what’s next, where are you going to college? What do you want to do with your life?”  Yesterday, you were a normal teenager, and then suddenly, in one foul swoop everything changes. Even your parents- who just days earlier wouldn’t let you stay out alone past 10:30 on a weeknight are asking you when you are moving out.  You’re still the same person, nothing has really changed, except now the stakes are higher and people are actually asking you real life questions about your future.  And for many, the future can be a scary place, full of uncertainties.  It’s crazy, but then, growing up always is.

But let’s go back a few years, back before high school, back before choices were a big deal, all the way back to when the biggest choice you had to make was whether you wanted the orange Popsicle or the red one. When you were a kid, you weren’t trying to figure everything out, you had different priorities then, and the main objective was about having fun.  Ah, the good old days when you could run for hours without losing your breath and you thought you could be anything. You, President? Of course! (Vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true.) There is something that resonates in the heart of a child- a child truly believes that they are special.  They believe in the core of them that they are different; they are an explorer, an inventor, and a dreamer.  Life is an adventure and every day is an opportunity to embrace it. But you’ve grown up now, “matured” so to speak.  You’ve taken your head out of the clouds and wised up to the way things are supposed to be. 

But wait…is that the way things are supposed to be? Boring, mundane, routine? Should we feebly lay aside our God given talents and passions for a life that we dread? What if you had it right when you were a kid?  What if life is supposed to be fun? Who says we should simply settle for status quo? What if instead of living nominally we so boldly pursue our dreams and dare to live them out? Your life was not meant to be boring, in fact God intended for it to be quite the opposite.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

“Everlasting life”, hmm, that doesn’t sound boring- does it? Perhaps we have made this life something that it is not.  Boring. Dull. Life-less. Wake up, Read two chapters in the Bible, pray for 30 minutes, clock in, do your time at work, come home, watch T.V., pay taxes, don’t take any risks in life, stay in your little Christian circles and bide your time here on Earth and wait for the glory days in the sweet by and by. But wait a minute; Christ died so that we may have everlasting life.  The question is, when does everlasting life begin? In heaven, once you kick the bucket?  Or does it start right here, right now, the very moment you ask Jesus into your life?

By not living the everlasting life here on earth that He paid the price for, we scorn the work He completed on the cross. We are so quick to show contempt at those whom we think are not living for God.  But what does it mean to “live for God”?

Does it mean pursuing the dreams He’s given you?

Does it mean enjoying this life He has blessed you with? 

Does it mean loving those around you and reaching out to those in need?

Does it mean shunning the nominal in your life?

The following is an excerpt of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, (CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios) delivered on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University.

 “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

For many, time has passed by quickly and the years have sped by like days…it may seem too late to pursue the dreams in your heart.  I have good news for you it’s not.

I think about what Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and life to the fullest.” He was talking about my life in that statement.  He was talking about you too. In coming to earth He was searching to exchange average living for something phenomenal. He wanted your wildest dreams to come true.  In fact, He is the one who gave those dreams to you, (Ps 37:4) not to frustrate you, but to bless you!   I’m not sure where it started, but somewhere, someone started projecting this negative image of God.  Like He’s out to get us and force us to live a life that we will hate. I’ve been told many a time, “Never say that you DON’T want to do that because then God will MAKE you do it!” It just doesn’t add up. God does not want to use your life as a divine object lesson. There is this pseudo philosophy that when faced with those fork in the road decisions, the spiritual thing to do is choose the road that looks hard or you aren’t excited about.  But that doesn’t even make sense! Why would God send His son to give us the best life possible, and place all these dreams inside our hearts, choose this moment in all of history for us to be born, and then punish us by making us live a life that we hate?  That does not sound like Gods nature at all, it sounds like the devil. I’m not saying that life is a rosy walk in the park, and I am not saying that doing what God has called you to do is always going to be easy, but I am telling you that the reward of following your dreams far outweighs the sacrifice.

Christ died, not only so we can go to heaven, not only so we could be whole, but also so that we can experience the best life possible here on earth.  He valued your life so much that he was willing to die for it.  Unfortunately that statement has become so cliché that we don’t even understand it’s full impact. 

So what does He want for us in this life? I believe He wants us to embrace our natural talents and God given desires.  I believe he wants you to ask yourself, “What do I love? What makes me come alive?  What excites me? What makes me so pumped that I can’t sleep at night?” I have heard many young people who are faced with tough decisions about the future pour their heart out about how they are searching for Gods will but don’t seem to have any peace.  Well- what about excitement? Joy? Anticipation???

John Eldridge said this:  “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Friends, it’s time to come alive. 


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.


Not Alone

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To every lonely heart,

Your heart may ache tonight.

You may feel alone.

Lost. Hurt. Broken.

Like no one cares or no one sees you.

I hope to remind you of this one thing tonight; you are not alone.

He is with you.

Much closer than you think.

Emmanuel.

Meaning, "God with us."

He sees you today.

You are not forgotten.

A few January's ago I had the chance to visit an orphanage in Haiti full of children who were rescued child slaves. I told those sweet children about the darkest day of my life...when I wept and no one heard. I told them about how I thought that I was nothing...not even worthy to keep living.

Before I left that day I hugged one of the girls and I just felt my heart whisper, "Don't let go until she does." That sweet, lonely child hugged me and would not let go. We embraced for twenty minutes or so. I stroked her hair and rocked her and told her she was lovely and beautiful and wonderful. I don't know about you; but I have never been so lonely that I willingly hugged a stranger for twenty minutes. Friend, perhaps we don't know what true loneliness is.

Months later, I stood on a boat in Cambodia on the Mekong River. On the boat with me were seventy-five women who made their living selling their bodies for sex. That night I told them my story. They wept. Even though our lives are so different, that night we found a common ground. The heart can be a lonely place, it longs to feel a sense of belonging...of being wanted, needed, and most of all loved.

Today, you may find your heart ring hollow... Empty. Lonely. Hurting.

Dear one, you are not alone.

God came to earth. 

Open your heart to Him.

He is with you.

 

A Really Mean Trick

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“Want to know a secret about the house?” She leaned in and said to me. My eyes grew wide as I nodded.

It was sixth grade and my family and I were moving into our dream house. Two stories, next to a farm, our own acre of forest to explore, and a pool. We were living large and excited like crazy to move in.


A few days before the previous owners moved out we drove over so Mom and Dad could talk “house stuff” to the sellers. My brothers and I came along for the ride hoping to get a chance to play in the backyard with the two girls who lived there. We had no idea that what they were about to tell us would radically change our free time for the next year.

“This house has a secret passage.” One of the sisters said.

My brother and I looked at each other, our eyes wide with amazement.

“Where?” we whispered back in awe.

“We can’t show you.”

“Why not?” we said defensively.

“We just can’t. We found it and you have to find it too.”

It was then that my parents called us and told us to hurry up and get in the car. UGH!! Perfect timing.

“Just tell us quick.” we pleaded.

“Nope.” And with that she made the key-locking-the-mouth-and-swallowing-the-key- symbol. You know how that is when you are kid- the final word has been spoken and silence locks down like Alcatraz Prison.

“GUYS—Lets go!” My Dad boomed. Just a few more seconds of stalling and we would be risking an appointment with the “spanking spoon”.

We jumped up and ran to the station wagon, determined the next time we saw them we would force them to tell us where the secret hiding place was.

Only, we never saw them again.

My brother and I spent almost every day for the next year looking for the secret passage. We looked under the stair case, in closets, we tapped on the walls listening for hollow spots, we searched every square inch of our house several times over. It was our obsession. We would talk about it incessantly, we would wake up early and search before we went to school and we whispered about it at night when we were supposed to be sleeping. We searched DAY and NIGHT for over a year but we never found it. Honestly, even now, at age 31 I occasionally find myself pressing on the knots in the floorboards when I come to Mom and Dads house for a visit.

So, if you want to know a really mean trick to play on someone—move out of your house and tell the new buyers kids that there is a secret passageway somewhere in the house and then never speak to them again.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I know a lot of people struggle to figure out what God wants them to do with their life. Many think He is like the girls we bought the house from, telling us something so incredible, yet too good to be true.

They are afraid. They think that He is hiding something. They think there must be a “catch”.

“If I follow Gods plan for my life He’s going to make me move to a mud hut in Africa, be poor and marry someone ugly…someone butt ugly.”

They think that God wants to trick them into following Him so he can torture them with His plan for their life. Like their life is one gigantic object lesson that He is going to use to teach them something. 

Plans to Prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope…

What do you hope for in life? To fall in love, to be a success? Maybe you hope you can make a difference or that at the end of your life you meant something significant to others. These are the things that we hope for, that we long for, that we were created for.

Yes, you were created with a purpose, you were created for relationship.

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you…”

Created to know God.

You see, His plan for your life is not illusive- it was not meant to be hidden or veiled. He wants you to know this plan- even more than you do.

In fact, way more than you do.

I don’t know if there is something that is holding you back from fulfilling what you dream about and hope for in life. I DO know that if you let go of fear and seek after God you will discover a plan for your life that is so wonderful, so amazing you wouldn’t believe it if someone told you about it. (Habakkuk 1:5)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

Neutral

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NEUTRAL

So, let me tell you about my first time behind the wheel.

I was fourteen and my Mom was taking forever to leave church so I decided instead of milling around the lobby for the next hour I was going to wait in the car. Only instead of getting in the passengers side I climbed in the drivers seat.

Now you know how things are when you are bored. I waited in the car for a while and then I started looking around. I fiddled with the change in the front cup holder, dusted off the dashboard and then something caught my eye: the gear shift.

I glanced in the rear view mirror.

No one was coming.

I slowly pushed in the button and the car slid into neutral. Then everything happened at once: Neutral, hill, momentum and tree.

Neutral.

It's a place where movement can begin.

There was another time in my life when I discovered the power of "neutral". I was in Bible school and just weeks away from graduation. The only problem was I had NO IDEA what to do next and I was terrified that I would make the wrong move and end up ruining my life.

My director pulled me aside and asked me if I had any plans for next year. I kind of just shrugged my shoulders and looked at the floor. What do you say when you have no idea what to do? "Yes. I plan to change the world. How? Ummm, I have no idea." The problem was I wanted to do something big for God but I was so scared I would screw it up I couldn't even make a move. I think the answer I finally gave him was something like, "No…not really."

Then he asked me this, "What would you like to do?" This question kind of took me off guard because it seemed so simple and everything I was going through in trying to decide what to do seemed so hard. I thought he would say something way more spiritual like, "Have you fasted and prayed?" or "You need to follow the 41 steps to hearing the voice of God." But no, so simple… “what would you like to?”

I told him, " I'd like to go live overseas."

"Who do you know that lives overseas?"

I told him the names of some family friends that lived in Prague.

His advice? Put it in neutral. "God can't steer a parked car." He told me, "if you put your life in neutral God can direct where you are going."

So that's what I did, I put it in neutral. I shook fear off and got my foot off the brakes. I called Prague. I talked to my friends that lived there. I priced out airline tickets. I started fundraising. Each small step built confidence in my heart that this was what I was supposed to do. It was just four months later that I stepped off the jet way and got my first official passport stamp in Europe.

Isaiah 30: 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

I love this scripture. When I am trying to make a tough decision in life, this is the scripture that I cling to.

It's like "neutral" in a nutshell. Take the brakes off. Shift into gear. Slowly allow your life to move in the direction you feel like God is leading you, and let Him steer you. As you make forward motion- God can show you where to go. It's when you have your life in park and your foot on the brakes that He can't even budge you.

You may be faced with tough decisions in life right now. What should I do with my life? Which college should I go to? Should I move across the country and take that job?

Put your life in neutral. Don't slam on the brakes or recklessly speed off by going full throttle on the gas.

Begin to make small steps.

Listen to his still small voice.

"THIS is the way, walk in it."

Trust that He will lead you.

 


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

 

Amazing Christa

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I slowly tiptoed to my room, opened my drawer and pulled out my great-grand mother’s handkerchief. The show would start in just a minute.

On my way back to the living room I made sure that all the adults were busy. Yup, everyone was visiting in the kitchen, now I just hoped that they stayed that way. My plan was unfolding perfectly, I was about to do something amazing.

On the T.V. in the living room was the candle, flickering in the evening light. I cleared my throat. It was time to begin.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I said to the empty living room as I imagined standing on stage before hundreds of people. “Tonight the Amazing Christa Wimer will attempt to hold this handkerchief over this burning flame for one second.” I paused for dramatic effect. “Folks, can she do it? We shall see.” Then I waved my tiny five-year-old fingers over the handkerchief and said, “Now, I will say the magic words, ‘a-la-peanut butter sandwiches’.”

I walked dramatically over to the candle, my heart pounding. This one act will prove whether or not I was a true magician, whether or not I would embark on my career as the “Amazing Christa” or simply have to carry on as a regular kindergartner. I took the handkerchief and held it over the flame.

“One!” I shouted as I pulled it swiftly away.

Astonishingly, it worked!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, she did it!” I said triumphantly taking a bow.

I was a true magician. Burning flames were no match for my astounding magical powers. I was elated and in my delight I decided that the trick I had just completed was too easy, I must accomplish something more daring, something that would skyrocket my career as the “Amazing Christa.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I announced. “The Amazing Christa Wimer will attempt something even more amazing than the last magic trick that she just performed. She will attempt to hold this handkerchief over this burning flame for ten seconds.”

I said the magic words as I waved my hand over the handkerchief. This was truly going to be amazing.

I took the handkerchief and held it directly over the flame.

“One…two…three.” I said each number loudly and dramatically.

“Four…fi—ve AHHHH!!!” In one split second the handkerchief had ignited. I threw it over my head into the air. It floated to the floor, landed on the carpet and became a giant flaming torch in the middle of the living room. Alas, as my brown shag carpet burned to a crisp, my grandiose dreams of becoming the world’s youngest magician came to a crashing halt. The next few moments are a blur. Someone hoisted me up and carried me safely out of the living room. Others threw water on the carpet and stomped out the flames with their hands and boots. That night the “Amazing Christa” gave her first and final magical performance.

Let’s fast-forward a few years. Sixth grade. What a crazy year in the life of the “Amazing Christa”. On the first day of school I came confident, sure of myself, happy, and excited. By the end of that year, I emerged as a different person. I guess nine months of being made fun of can wear on a person. I can still hear the girls at the lunch table…

“Christa, do you want to know who the nerd of the class is?”

“You.” they told me.

That’s a hard thing to hear as a kid and not believe. Honestly, I truly loved who I was and I would look in the mirror and think, “What is it about me that is not to like?” Maybe if I weren’t so quirky, so opinionated…so different. Maybe if I could change my hair, buy more expensive clothes; get these stupid braces off, then things would change. But they didn’t. The harder I tried to be accepted, the more alienated I became.

I changed my methods, instead of trying to stand out; I simply tried to blend in. Quirkiness was substituted with conformity, opinions exchanged with shyness, braces replaced by a face that never smiled. I certainly wasn’t the most popular, but at least I was no longer a target.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Matt 5:16

I guess as the die hard missionary that I am, I have always looked at this scripture as an example of how we need to witness to others…you know, shine the light of Jesus and be nice to people. Lately though, I’ve been looking at this scripture in a new light, in the way that it directly pertains to how we view ourselves.

When we started out on this journey of life, we all thought that we were amazing. (Sure, most of you probably weren’t trying to prove it by lighting the living room carpet on fire.) But we all knew that something about us was special. I guess sometimes along the journey we can become disillusioned. It’s easy to think that “being you” just isn’t good enough.

The other day we took the Go Interns to meet with a really amazing guy, Tom Newman, and he said something that really rocked my world, “The greatest place in life that you can ever hope to arrive at is to be yourself. Never stray from that place. If you do, the only hope you have of ever being better is to eventually come back to being yourself.”

I love that.

The greatest place you can ever hope to arrive at is being who you were created to be. There is so much freedom in that. It’s easy to be you. You just wake up and embrace the day and shine, as only you can.

It was in my early twenties that I decided to stop apologizing for the way that I am. I am different. Unique. Silly. That’s me. Call me weird if you want to, I’ll just smile and say, “thank you”. I’m not embarrassed by what makes me distinctive, in fact, I am most proud of it. What you will discover, when you embrace who you are, is centeredness unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Confidence. Others see it too. There is nothing that speaks louder than a person unafraid to be themself.

The world is waiting for you to shine.


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

Go Snapshot: Aids Orphanage, Juvenile Center, and The Talk

snapshot_3-29-13

snapshot_3-29-13

I pray you and your family have a great holiday weekend as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  As believers we pause to reflect on the sacrifice that was made for us so that we might know God and live in the freedom that comes with the forgiveness of sin.  It is this story of redemption and reconciliation that compels us to live here in a foreign country and make known the name of Christ.

The Gospel message that we share here in Ecuador is not a message of rules and lists of good things to do.  The message we preach is that God loves you right where you are.  He is not mad at you.  He loves you and wants you to live free from the burden of sin.  He sees you as valuable.  This is a message that when believed is transformational.

It is our belief in this life changing message that moves us to seek creative ways in which we can share it with others.  This week we have seen God work in the lives of many people.  We thank you for being part of what He is doing in Ecuador!  Below are just a few of the things that took place this week.

Journeying Together,

The Bacas

aids-orphange

aids-orphange

Aids Orphanage  I have been visiting orphanages for the past 15 years but now that I have my own son it is tougher than ever before.  As a parent you know what a kid needs and what they desire so when you see children living in such rough conditions it breaks your heart.  This was especially the case as we visited an aids orphanage this past week.  It was a great day we shared with them though as we played games, painted faces, and just loved them.

jail

jail

Juvenile Detention Center Once again we were back with our friends at the detention center.  It is amazing as we’ve gone week after week to see the hearts of these young men soften and open to us.  This week they asked to take our team picture and told us that we are part of their family!

the-talk

the-talk

The Talk If you have been receiving this email for any length of time you know that we are busy with a variety of evangelistic projects.  The result of this has left many people wanting to know more and seeking to become involved in what we are doing.  This has lead us to launch a new weekly meeting at a local restaurant that we are simply calling “The Talk”.  The goal of this meeting is to give unchurched people that we encounter a safe place to come and build community and learn more about Christ.

Go Snapshot: Love From Above, Prison, Schools, and More.

snapshot_3-16-13

snapshot_3-16-13

This week marked our first fully operational week of Submerge.  The first week we spent much of our time in training, building relationships with the team, and planning.  This week we hit the ground running as we executed all of our plans from the prior week.  We started things off on Saturday with one of the outreaches we’ve done in other countries called, “Love from Above”.

side-bar-photo-template

side-bar-photo-template

The concept is simple.  Come up with little ways you can bless a stranger, accompany this act with hand out cards that say “Love From Above: We wanted to show you by this simple act of kindness that God loves you and he cares very much about you.”  The card then directs them to visit a page on our website with an article in Spanish on God’s love for us.  The team chose to go to a local park and pass out free water along with the Love from Above cards.  They had some incredible conversations and people were blown away that anyone would spend their Saturday passing water out to strangers.

In addition to this outreach the team ministered at; a juvenile detention center, One Heart college ministry, a kids feeding program, and two schools where they presented 7 childrens/youth programs.  Needless to say the team was very busy this week and saw much fruit from their labor.  In all they were able to minister to over 1100 people since last Saturday!  We also began Spanish classes this week, I say “we” because Christa and I are definitely attending classes as well!  It’s amazing how much more you pay attention in class when you know that when you walk out the door that’s the only language you can use to communicate!

Overall I would say we are very happy with the launch of Submerge and are enjoying getting to know the team more each day.  We trust that they are learning and growing as they make themselves available to be used by God.  Thank you for your continued prayers for us and our team and we specifically ask that you pray for health as some of our team members are battling some “bugs” this week.

Journeying Together,

The Baca’s

you-are-creative

you-are-creative

You Are Creative I have been speaking every Saturday all this month to a local youth group on Creativity and the role it can play in our life.  One tool that I always share with people when speaking on the subject, is something I first heard from Robert Kiyosaki years ago.  When faced with an obstacle or challenge don’t say “I can’t” but rather, ask “How can I?”.  That subtle distinction can make all the difference in the results we see in life.  Give it a try and watch your mind go to work.

lunch-with-z

lunch-with-z

My Day With Zion I’m sure we can all recall conversations with either our parents or our children about the importance of being grateful and how others around the world have it worse than we do.  This has been a recurring conversation in the Baca home recently as we aim to instill gratefulness and generosity in the heart of our son.  Yesterday I told Zion he was not going to daycare but that he and I were going downtown to look for ways we could be a blessing.  We ended up inviting a group of children who work as shoe shiners to eat lunch with us.  Afterwards Zion suggested he use his ten dollars his Papa had recently given him to buy ice cream for everyone.  It was a special day for all of us.

passport

passport

Visa's In Hand Thank you to all who have been standing with us in agreement that our visa’s would come through.  Yesterday I went to the immigration office to pick them up and I’m happy to say that today we have them in hand!  This completes phase 2 of a 3 phase process that must be accomplished in order to obtain the type of long term visa we are hoping for.

Go Snapshot: Submerge off to a great start

snapshot-3-8-13

snapshot-3-8-13

It's been over ten years since Christa and I first discussed starting an international team missions base, last Friday we saw that dream fulfilled with the arrival of our first Submerge Team.  We have spent this last week introducing the team to Quito, getting to know each other, and even doing some ministry together.  We are excited about what is on the horizon and what God is doing in our midst.  We truly are expectant about the things that will happen as a result of this team working together.  As I shared with the team this week, our vision is three fold in what is to come from this first group; that the individual lives of the team members will be changed, that lives in Ecuador will be transformed, and that future Submerge teams will be influenced.

After a year break from leading a team it feels great to be surrounded once again by young passionate people who are willing to lay it all on the line to receive what God has for them.  Our goal is that we would inspire them to be who God has created them to be, but there's no doubt that we are also inspired by the passion we see in these young people.  This next week will kick off our regular schedule where the team will begin Spanish classes, and daily outreaches.  We ask for your prayers as we continue to walk in this new season!

Journeying Together,

The Baca’s

justin

justin

In Their Own Words Occasionally we will be linking to the individual blogs of some of our team members so that you can hear about Submerge directly from those who are participating in it.  Today you can hear from Ashton O'neal and Justin Kila by clicking HERE and HERE.

one-heart-3-8-13

one-heart-3-8-13

Speaking Engagements This past week we had the opportunity to speak to the youth of a church called Corederro de Dios.  They are doing a four part series this month on creativity and have asked us to speak each week.  Also our team spoke on Wednesday night to the students of OneHeart.  Tomorrow we are doing a joint outreach with OneHeart in a local park!

family

family

3-8-13-icon

3-8-13-icon

Pray For Us As many of you read this past week we've been working on our extended visas, we ask that you continue to pray that all goes well as our application is being processed.  We should have them in hand next Friday.  Also I ask that you pray for our family as we strive to strike the balance between leading this new team and guarding our time as a family.

Go Snapshot: Go International Documentary and Other Exciting Updates

2_22_2013_go_eblast_top

2_22_2013_go_eblast_top

Things here in Ecuador couldn’t be going better.  We are exactly one week away from our first Submerge team arriving.  Last night we hosted a conference call with all of our new team and everyone is truly excited about this new season they are about to begin.

Almost ten years ago when Christa and I first launched Go International there were 3 main components we envisioned for Go; short term mission trips, an internship program, and international missions bases.  For over ten years we have been doing short term missions, we graduated 6 classes of the Go Internship program, and now we continue on in the vision with the launch of Submerge and establishing our first international base.

Our goal is that through Submerge countless lives will be changed here in Ecuador but also that the lives of our Submerge team will be forever changed.  Our hope is that a passion for people and for the world will be cultivated in the hearts of our team and as a result their lives will continue to shine the love of God in the dark corners of the earth.

This week we hired two new staff members; a part time cook who will prepare one hot meal per day for the team, and a full time administrative assistant who is a bilingual native of Quito who will help us coordinate ministry, translate, and provide Spanish lessons for Submerge.

Thank you for your support of Go International, it means so much to both Christa and I.

Journeying Together,

The Baca’s

film

film

Go International Documentary A few weeks back we received a phone call from a Media Company in the States.  They expressed to us a desire to produce a documentary on Go International, the launch of Submerge, and the various ministry we will be doing here in Ecuador.  Filming has already begun in the form of interviews of some of our team members as they prepare to leave the country for the next 3 months.  We trust that God will use this film to share the message of Christ with a broader audience.

radiate

radiate

Speaking Engagements On Sunday we had the opportunity to share in 2 church services at Iglesia Libertad.  We shared a message called “Radiate: Light Your World”, where we spoke of the principles of sharing your faith that we’ve learned through the various outreaches we’ve done around the world.  On Wednesday we were invited back to OneHeart and we talked to the students about moving from being a “victim” to a “victor”.  (Basically, how you can choose to overcome your circumstances instead of allowing them to limit you.)

tent

tent

Zion's 3rd Birthday Last Saturday we celebrated Zion’s 3rd birthday Ecuadorian style!  It was so nice to have so many of our friends come out and show their love for Z.  All his best friends are in their 20’s, I think in his mind they’re the same age.  He has been asking for a circus room ever since watching the movie Madagascar, so Christa and I bought some fabric and we put our design skills to use and created the circus tent-bed canopy pictured above.  He LOVES it!

32 Things I've Learned in 32 Years

32-things

32-things

As I celebrate this my 32nd birthday I truly believe I am a better person than I ever have been and am in a healthier place than ever before.  As I pondered this feeling of contentment in life I wrote a list of 32 Things I've Learned in 32 years that have helped bring me to this point.  Perhaps these lessons can help you too. :)

I have learned that...

LIFE IS DYNAMIC It is an illusion to think that any given season will always remain. You can be sure that some sort of change is always around the corner.

YOU CAN NOT DEFINE YOURSELF BY NEITHER YOUR SUCCESSES NOR YOUR FAILURES I have been tempted at different times to find my identity in the successes I've been part of. Likewise when I've made mistakes it has been even more tempting to define myself by my shortcomings.  I have learned the importance of seeing myself through Gods eyes and then acting and living according to that image regardless of my feelings.  The truth is God loves us and is for us no matter what we do.

LOVE IS POWERFUL Love is a transformative force. As I've traveled the globe it is not words that have brought transformation to the lives of people but rather love. I have experienced this type of love not only from God but also from those closest to me, my wife and my family. True love is there for you no matter what. That type of love gives you the power to be your best.

GOD IS FAITHFUL In every season of life both good and bad, He has been with me. I am truly blessed and thankful for His faithfulness in my life.

THE JOURNEY IS BETTER THAN THE DESTINATION It took me awhile to get this one but I truly believe that it is while journeying that we grow and memories are made.  I was recently reminded of this while on a 7 day hunt with my dad.  The whole point of the hunt was to get an elk but far more important than accomplishing our goal was the 7 days we spent driving and talking together.

IT IS POSSIBLE If you can dream it you can do it.  We have the creative nature of God on the inside of us ready to be released at any time.  Don’t let other people’s “impossible” become your own.  Always see through the eyes of possibility.

YOU CAN’T BE SWAYED BY CRITICS There will always be people who with an opinion, don’t let them stop you.  No matter what you do people will find reason to criticize so grow thick skin, know your purpose, and keep moving forward.

IT’S NOT OVER TIL IT’S OVER Sometimes when we go through hard times and we can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we simply must hold on.  Don’t give up hope.  Believe. Stand strong.  Lean on a friend.  Cry.  But don’t quit.

LIFE IS NOT PERFECT Between hollywood and “pretty package Christianity” it is easy to get the idea that things always work out for believers.  While I wish that were the case I’ve learned that indeed life is not perfect.  There are disappointments, shortcomings, failures, and tragedies we all have to deal with.  The good news is that in the midst of these less than perfect times God is with us.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL I believe that precisely because life is not perfect, it is also beautiful.  I think of vintage furniture that has wear and tear and has been distressed. It is the markings that give it character.  The same is true with life.  When we go through rough times we emerge stronger and more beautiful people.  We see life through a new lens.  Much like spring coming forth after winter, there is a greater appreciation for beauty.

FAMILY LOVES YOU LIKE NO ONE ELSE DOES No matter how many friends I’ve acquired nothing compares to family.  They love me just for being me.  I am so grateful for the love and support I’ve been given over the years.

HAVING FUN ON A CONSISTENT BASIS IS VITALLY IMPORTANT When I’m too serious I bore myself.  It’s easy for me to slip into “responsibility mode” and neglect fun.  I love fun. I love laughing, games, movies, competition, music, dancing, eating, traveling and so much more.  I value fun.

I WOULD RATHER BE A REAL REBEL THAN A FAKE SAINT After many years in “ministry” I have realized that everybody has varying expectations of a minister.  It is impossible to meet all of those expectations as some of them are in direct contradiction to each other.  In addition I know that I am not perfect and to pretend to be so is both fake and hypocritical.  I need Jesus as much as anybody I’ve met.  So I would rather be real and authentic at the risk of others labeling me a rebel, than I would to present a fake image of perfection.

YOU CAN NOT PLEASE EVERYBODY The quicker one learns this the better.  We live in such a polarized nation there’s almost a 50/50 split on everything.  To attempt to please everyone is insanity.  Be who you are and you’ll probably have 50% of people in your corner and 50% in the other.  Be ok with that and be true to yourself.

MAC’S ARE BETTER THAN PC’S I still remember my day of conversion. ;) Thank you Apple for all of your help throughout the years.

PEOPLE ARE THE SAME Whether speaking to a chief in the islands of Panama, a monk in the nation of Thailand, or a novelist on the streets of Paris, I’ve found that people are searching for the same things.  People long for love, seek purpose, search for ways of absolving their conscience, want good things for the next generation, etc...  I have found there are so many things that unite us as humanity.

IT IS WORTH THE RISK I’m a big risk taker.  I love putting it all on the line and stepping out.  Not fully knowing how the story will end when you first begin.  Risking reminds me that I am living.  My favorite moments in life have been when I’ve risked.

LIBERTY IS BETTER THAN SECURITY This goes hand in hand with risk.  Bottom line is liberty and freedom are dangerous and yet so is tyranny.  I don’t want the government or anybody else keeping me safe from everything.  We can not trade our freedom for security or we will end up trading our very lives.  One of the most secure places that exists is a maximum security prison, yet to experience this type of security one must first give up their liberty and essentially their life.

THE WORLD IS AN AMAZING PLACE I admit it, I am spoiled.  At a relatively young age I have seen things I once only dreamed of.  Growing up I never imagined I’d travel to the places I have.  From Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Mountains to Angkor Wat in the jungles of Cambodia, I have experienced culture first hand.  I love discovering random facts like penguins live on sandy beaches in South Africa or that there are pink dolphins that swim in the Amazon River.  But better than the great landmarks or terrains of the world are the people.  I love meeting friends from all around the world.

ADVENTURE IS IN MY BLOOD I love a thrill and rush of adrenaline!  From skydiving to simply trying out a new restaurant I love to experience new things.

THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST IS NOT JUST A STORY I would not devote my life to a legend, myth, or Sunday school story.  I do what I do because my life was transformed.  I have experienced over and over again the real transformational power of Christ both in my own life and the lives of others.

I LOVE STAYING UP LATE It is in my genes.  I am a nocturnal person.  Even now as I write it is 3:20am!  Seriously what am I doing?  Am I tired?  Yes.  Should I go to bed?  Of course.  Will I?  haha no.  This is so typical of my nights.  For whatever reason I get a freakish surge of energy at night and am often more productive.  I gave up resisting my late night tendencies long ago and now I just embrace it as part of my make up.  Oh and I recruited Christa to the nocturnal team!  (3:00 is a little beyond here endurance though)

I’M NOT PERFECT - JESUS IS Somehow I feel that often times the church get’s this wrong.  So many act as if our good deeds earn us a place in heaven.  The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was that indeed we weren’t good enough but He was.  It is because of the price He paid that we can live free of guilt and shame.  He has set us free.

BEING A DAD IS ONE OF MY GREATEST JOYS I always wanted to be a dad but I never knew just how much I would treasure that role.  What an honor to be entrusted with such innocence, and such life.  I am so grateful to have Zion as my son, I couldn’t imagine a better boy.

IT IS MUCH EASIER TO JUST BE YOURSELF THAN STRIVE TO BE SOMEONE ELSE You can not confidently be somebody else because you never know if you are doing it right.  “What would they say?”  “What would they do”?  “How would they react?”  Trying to be someone else is a total guess because you have no idea what they’d do so you can not do it confidently.  It is easy to have confidence in being yourself because you don’t even have to think about what you’d do, you just do it.  So much less pressure.  Be who you are and know that you are good enough.

I LOVE BEING FROM A SMALL RURAL TOWN The longer I’m away the more I appreciate where I’m from.  I love the outdoors and small town way of life.  I like that people have decency and help one another out.  I like going to the store and running into 3 or 4 or 5 or 10 people you know.  There is something to be said about living in community.

I DON’T HAVE ALL OF THE ANSWERS I used to think I had to, and now I’m so glad I don’t.  What arrogance to think that in my tiny 32 year existence I have it figured out.  The truth is there is so much that I don’t know.  That fact is what keeps me hungry to discover and learn and seek truth.  If you have it all figured out then what more is there to learn?

YOU CAN LEARN FROM EVERYONE Because I’m always seeking to learn I have developed an appreciation for the fact that everybody has something to offer and is therefore a potential teacher.  I have learned some of the most powerful lessons in some of the most unlikely places.

FOR ME FOOD IS FOR MUCH MORE THAN SUSTENANCE.  IT IS  ENTERTAINMENT AND ART In another life I’d be a food critic...mainly just to eat for free!  Seriously I love food.  One of my fav parts of traveling is eating various cuisine.  I honestly feel like I’m a 500lb fat man trapped inside a 160lb body.  hahaha grateful for metabolism to accompany my palet.

LOVING AND SERVING OTHERS IS A WORTHY PURSUIT The world is full of hurting people who have it worse off than we do.  Serving and loving others is the best way to spend one’s life in my opinion.  It is in fact one of the only things that will outlive you.

A 22 YEAR OLD BOY MADE THE BEST DECISION WHEN HE MARRIED CHRISTA BACA When you are young and “in love” you have no true idea of the journey you are about to embark on in marriage.  It amazes me how little you truly understand about love at the point of “I do”.  I think you get it conceptually but living life with someone day in and day out is where true love is defined.  I am so grateful for the choice I made in Christa as my spouse.  She has been there beside me every step of the way.  The hard times we’ve walked through have forged us closer together.  I can honestly say I’m a better person and lead a better life because of her.

PEACE, LOVE, JOY, AND CONTENTMENT ARE FAR MORE VALUABLE THAN MONEY OR SUCCESS. There is no greater feeling than being at peace within your own soul.  Knowing that things in life are right and in proper place is invaluable.  I am by nature a driven person but over the past few years I have learned to be content with where I am yet to keep moving forward with peace.  I truly find myself more and more living each day with contentment thinking “there’s nowhere else I’d rather be”.

Artist Spotlight: Paul Klein

Yesterday our friend Paul Klein released his latest single "I'll be Home for Christmas" on iTunes.  To download this or other songs by Paul CLICK HERE. We recently caught up with Paul to discuss music, dreams, and life:

Q: Tell us about your last release: In addition to this Christmas single, I released a worship record titled "Heart and Soul" on iTunes September 25th of this year. I started writing for the project in January and went into the studio in May.

xmas art final 7

xmas art final 7

Q: Where do you find your inspiration? I find inspiration in almost everything. But, I try not to stop at just being inspired. Once something inspires me, I HAVE to figure out what it is specifically about that certain song, photograph, or moment in time that triggers that inspiration. If I can answer that question and then transfer that information into my own art, I can [hopefully] pass on that inspiration to someone else.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is  aspiring to step out and follow their dreams? Start! If starting isn't the hardest part, then staying the course is. Your dreams are going to lead you down a path of inevitable discouragement, doubt, and frustration. You will finally come face to face with the defining question - "how bad do I want it?" Your answer to that question correlates directly to the fulfillment of your dreams.

Q: What has been the most challenging part of pursuing a career in music? As an independent artist, the main challenge I am [currently] facing is getting my music heard by people outside my circle of personal friendship/relationship. But, before exposure, the challenge was, and is still, the quality of my songwriting and production - a challenge that I look forward to embracing for as long as I live. And, after exposure, it will be financial sustainability. The challenges are never ending.

Q: What do you do to press on during challenging times? During challenging times, I think it's natural [although not beneficial] to look at the "success" others are having and begin to compare yourself to them. Don't do that! I can't think of anything more unproductive. You have 24 hours every day to become a better YOU. Tomorrow, your goal is to be better than you are today.

Q: If you were to describe "your dreams coming true" what would it look like? I want to play music around the world with my best friends. I can't think of anything better than doing what I love, with the ones I love, for the One I love. That's cheesy, but it's seriously all I want.

IMG_9989

IMG_9989

Q:  What would be your "Dream Collaboration"? I'd love to write a song with Marty Sampson. I don't know if this counts as a "collaboration," but I'd love to have a 10 minute conversation with John Mayer.

Q:  What do you use as creative stimuli? Being active outdoors does wonders for my creativity and productivity.

Q:  Any recommended reads? I really need to read more. "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon is an excellent book.

Q:  What band is currently most played on your iPod? Paper Route's most recent record "The Peace of Wild Things" is mint.

Q:  Most treasured possession? Sadly, my laptop is really, really valuable to me. Every idea of mine is stored somewhere on that hard drive.

Q:  Is there a scripture you would leave with readers to encourage them? James 1:2-4 seems to be quite relevant to our topic of discussion. "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."

Connect with Paul twitter and instagram name: @pauljasonklein facebook music page: www.facebook.com/paulkleinmusic website: www.paulkleinmusic.com

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Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Adams

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alumni_spotlight_jon

Check out this week’s edition of Alumni Spotlight, where we catch up with previous interns and staff to see what they’ve been up to.  This week we talk with children's minister Jonathan Adams (or as our son affectionately refers to him: Big Jon).  Jonathan interned with Go for two years graduating the program in 2011.  In 2012 he joined us on staff working in our missions department.  Jonathan is one of the most passionate people we know and he is an inspiration to many!  We thought it appropriate to make this post today as he celebrates his birthday.

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Tell us about what your life looks like right now? Right now i am the Children's minister at Kirk of the Hills in Tulsa, Ok. Loving every moment of it. Im also still doing multiple short term missions trips every year.

Where was your last international adventure? Mongolia

Tell us about what you did there? Had the opportunity to do large VBS's for provinces in the Dornigobi Dessert and various other evangelism projects.

What was the most challenging part of your adventure? Not being around my friends that i have traveled the world with for over 3 years.

What was the most impactful moment of your trip? Seeing hundreds of kids coming to Christ.

What’s the one thing you wish you had brought with you on the trip? SHORTS! I was told it was going to be freezing, so i didnt even think to bring any shorts, and when we got to the dessert it got pretty warm during the day. haha

How did you raise the money for your trip? I was blessed! The church paid for me. So thankful for that.

What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to take a step towards their dreams? Stay passionate at what you love, because when you have passion you have purpose and where there is purpose there is always achievement. Stay humbled by the gift's God has given you and use them to serve his kingdom.

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What countries have you visited? Jamaica, Panama 3 times, El Salvador, Haiti 2 times, Cambodia 2 times, Thailand, Hong Kong, Seoul Korea, Mongolia, South Africa

What do you love most about traveling? Experiencing the uncertain, the unknown territory.

Do you have a favorite country? If so, what is it that you like about it? Hard to ever say a favorite but i do have a big heart for Haiti. There is just so much need there, and i just have such a desire to bring hope to that nation, that they will rise again.

Do you have a current project or adventure on the horizon? If so what is it? Yes i am planning a outreach in Haiti with Victory Compassion and other strong leaders in the Tulsa area to hopefully pull off a massive crusade type ministry for children/adults in July of 2013.

What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned since leaving Go? That nothing is impossible. Always be willing to learn and improve. Stretch yourself beyond comfort, to be the change that you want to see in the world.

Where do you find your inspiration? Through God's Love, Grace, Mercy, Compassion, and Favor that he has given us all.

Want to be on the inside track of all things GO International? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-blasts and receive inspirational articles, current news and updates in your inbox. If you would like to donate to Go International or join our South American Operational Support Team click here.  Help spread the word and post this article to Facebook or Twitter.

Add One

You got perfume for mom.

A sweater for your aunt.

That gift card for your co-worker.

Almost all the items on your Christmas list are crossed off...

All but one.

This Christmas, Go International would like to ask you to add one more to your list.

The prostitute.

The drug addict.

The prisoner.

The Orphan.

The twenty-something who hopes to one day be a missionary.

Often times when ministering to the multitudes the individual lives that are changed can tend to be overlooked.  We ask that this Christmas you consider making a donation to Go International to help us reach the “ones” who are in need of hope, love, and the redeeming message of Christ.

Give a gift that matters this holiday season. CLICK HERE to donate and ADD ONE to your holiday list.

All gifts are tax-deductible.

Join this weeks #go_inspiration contest

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This week's#go_inspiration featured artist is @flyboy11 (AKA: Nathan Yoder) with his interpretation of  “Thankful”. @Flyboy11 is a graphic designer and illustrator for Hampton Creative.  You can checkout some of his amazing hand drawn illustrations on his Instagram Feed or by following him on Tumblr.

We recently visited with @flyboy11 about his design for this latest installment of #go_inspiration:

@go_International: Tell us about your design

@flyboy11:With every design I do, I try to incorporate some kind of action into both the visual and contextual elements of the piece. I believe that our lives shouldn't be static but that they should be constantly moving forward and encouraging others to do the same. I want my artwork to prompt the same response in people.

That being said, I wanted to look at the theme of thankfulness from a slightly different angle then what might have been the obvious. A lot of us, including myself, get wrapped up in what they feel is entitled to them and it turns them cold against the people around them whether they see it or not. When we hit this place we stop moving. We settle on what we think is ours and point out the flaws in people rather than building them up and realizing their true worth. The things in life that we should be most grateful for lose their luster against the myriad of other things that pull for our attention and promise us more happiness than they are capable of giving.

Pride is the result of all of this. An unhealthy view of ourselves. A thankful heart destroys that way of thinking. Literally. It doesn't take long to sit down and truly realize how good we have it. Even if your life is seemingly in shambles, the mere fact that we have a God that loves us despite ours most disgusting of failures and died for us to break us free of that burden is enough. Thankfulness doesn't leave room for a selfish way of thinking. It shoots through pride and propels us forward to what God has for us... Sooo thankfulness is the arrow.

"Blessed are the  meek, for they  shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 ESV)

@go_International: What programs did u use to design this?

@flyboy11:My hand, a sharpie, a scanner, and photoshop. In that order haha

@go_International:  Where do you find your inspiration?

@flyboy11: I find my inspiration just about everywhere I look. But probably the greatest source would be nature. There's nothing like a good bike ride or walk in the woods to slow things down and help me clear my head. I feel like nature is the clear pallet that I can always go back to. Make something simple before you try to make it fancy. When things get crazy busy, I find myself trying to simplify everything on top of an already complicated platform. The outdoors helps with that. I also secretly have a fascination for poetry. More so for writing it than reading it. I usually try to build what's being said in each piece like its a song. I like to look at each piece like a song being visualized. Plus, if I can be creative with how something is being said on top of how it's being displayed, it's a win win.

JOIN US THIS WEEK ON INSTAGRAM FOR "THANKFUL":To enter follow @go_international on IG and load your image (photography, design, typography, drawing/sketch, etc.) with the hashtag #go_inspiration.   On Sunday, the featured artist will select their favorite design from the feed and that design will go live on our website with a corresponding article the following Monday.  To be selected as a winner you must follow @go_international  and use only original art and photos.  We look forward to seeing your posts

To follow @go_international on Instagram CLICK HERE, also be sure to follow @flyboy11.

Want to be on the inside track of all things GO International? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-blasts and receive inspirational articles, current news and updates in your inbox. If you would like to donate to Go International or join our South American Operational Support Team click here.  Help us spread the word and post this article to Facebook or Twitter.

!

#go_inspiration: Risk

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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  – Helen Keller

When was your last real adventure?  What was the last risk you took?  When was the last time you did something even though you were afraid to do it?

If it’s hard to come up with an answer, you’re not alone. Unfortunately we live in a world today where playing it safe, staying inside the lines, and the false comfort of “guarantees” are often valued over; freedom, adventure, and risk. In fact most people view the word “risk” as inherently negative. I believe however that to truly live we must risk, not for risks sake, but because there are some things that are simply worth risking. Many people shy away from risk because of what they stand to lose, but how different life might be if they focused instead on what they stood to gain?

I think back in my own life at times I’ve chosen to risk.

  • The night Christa and I had “the talk”.
  • Making my first sales pitch to a vendor for an idea that would eventually bring in over $10,000 in value to pay for our wedding.
  • Our first year of marriage when we both quit our full time jobs and I took a job waiting tables at night so we could work on building Go International.tv during the day.
  • Signing a contract to procure a 10,000 seat stadium for our very first international youth concert.
  • Floating down the Amazon in a thatched roof wooden boat (at night, in a massive storm) in order to share Christ with a tribe.
  • Turning down a $75,000 annual salary when I was working as a server only making $17,000 annually at the time.
  • Accepting an invitation to speak before thousands when I was only 19 and had never spoken to near that amount of people before.
  • Traveling to India with just me and my friend Matt for 3 weeks when we were just teenagers.
  • Launching Go Internship.tv
  • Moving the ministry into offices
  • Deciding to have our first child.
  • And most recently:  Selling everything and moving our family to South America in the nation of Ecuador!

This list goes on and on.  I write it not to glory in my past, but rather to highlight the fact that almost all of my favorite memories in life had some level of risk involved in order to experience them.  It’s easy to list now but at the time those risks were very real with true human emotion attached to them.  When we decided to start Go International and quit our jobs immediately after marrying, you better believe there were some doubts and worries:  “What if we fail?”  “What if we can’t pay our bills?”  “What if we’re not capable?”  All of those were questions we asked ourselves. I am just glad that we didn’t let those questions stop us.  In fact, we started asking ourselves new questions:  “What if we succeed?”  “What if this works?”  “What if we truly can live our dream?”  It is these latter questions that spurred us onward.

What is it that’s in your heart?  What dreams do you possess?  Who are the people that you love?  It is my contention that your answer to those questions are indeed worth the risk.  I always used to tell the Go Interns: “We only get one life, this is not a dress rehearsal.”  Comfort and security are not worth the death of your dreams.  Now is the time to live your life.  Risking is the difference between existing and living.

What about you?  Click hereto send us a message and tell us about some of the risks you’re glad you’ve taken in life.  Your story may be posted to inspire others.

This has been the 2nd installation of #go_inspiration, the new weekly collaboration between Go International and artists of Instagram in which we seek to provide continued inspiration through articles and art. Every week artists from across the globe will upload their photos to Instagram and hashtag them #go_inspiration.  Our featured artist will choose their favorite photo.  At the end of the year Go will compile all the winning artists work into an inspirational book called #go_inspiration.  The winning photo for the “Risk” theme was created by @adaezemusic chosen by our featured artist @__kto.

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fly_boy_logo

Join us for this week’s #go_inspiration as artist Nathan Yoder (@flyboy), inspires us to be “Thankful”.  To see @flyboy 's #go_inspiration or to join in this week’s contest CLICK HERE for more details!

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F_artist_@kto

Q&A with Featured Artist @__kto:@go_intl:  Tell us about your #go_inspiration. @__kto:  I was happy to participate in this weeks #go_inspiration. art based around themed words is fun.

@go_intl: Share a little about what the theme "risk" means to you. @__kto:  I found the theme "risk" entirely fitting for my current season of transition.

@go_intl:  What programs did u use to design or edit this? @__kto:  I used one black crayon, an iPhone and photoshop for the piece.

@go_intl:  Where do you find your inspiration? @__kto:  These people have taught me life and art principles: @dodgepangburn, @belpangburn, @darsh07, @becworth, @christabaca

Want to be on the inside track of all things GO International? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-blasts and receive inspirational articles, current news and updates in your inbox. If you would like to donate to Go International or join our South American Operational Support Team click here.  Help us spread the word and post this article to Facebook or Twitter.  Follow us on Instagram @go_intl.

Then & Now: Lauren Palomares

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then+now_laurenP

We are pleased to introduce a new blog series on Go International.tv called Then & Now.  In each edition of Then & Now we will hear directly from alumni of the Go Internship to learn how they have taken their experience at Go and applied it in their current life.  In this first edition it is only appropriate that we start with our very first intern, Lauren Palomares.

Lauren began interning at Go long before she was Mrs. Palomares, in fact she was a 17 year old high school senior who interned with us before we even had an official program.  She would go on to become a Go Intern, Go Apprentice, and eventually worked on staff with us for three years as the director of short term missions.  It has been our honor to watch her grow over the years, and we have truly enjoyed our many adventures together around the globe!

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Then & Now:  Life Lessons From Go Internship by Lauren Palomares

The five years I spent at Go International were some of the most fun and impactful of my life. During my time there, I spent two years as an intern and three as a staff member coordinating the summer mission trips. It was a completely unforgettable experience and I am often amazed at all that I learned and was able to be a part of while I was there.

Last October, I moved to Orlando to marry the love of my life and start our journey in a new city. Since being here, I’ve taken a job at Marilyn Monroe Spas, a start up company that plans to launch new spa concepts in the USA as well as internationally. The company was started by a couple of well known names in business, and to be honest, I was a little unsure of where I would find my place in it. I didn’t have any training in spas specifically, other than of course the occasional pampering!

As I began my journey in this new job, I realized that my training at Go International did not only equip me with the skills to plan mission trips, but also how to start things in general. Sitting in our preliminary meetings around the boardroom table with executives much older than myself, I felt totally comfortable and couldn’t help but think “This reminds me so much of Go!” I am amazed at how many professional skills I developed by being a part of the organization. While working at Go I learned graphic design, computer programs, creative thinking, and what it takes to coordinate and complete a project. I daily apply these skills along with the life experiences I gained during my time at Go International to my new job. Since starting at Marilyn Monroe Spas in May, I’ve found my niche working with our design team to create the look and feel of the spas, as well as being a part of the marketing and brainstorming meetings.

I am very thankful that Greg and Christa spent so much time teaching me one-on-one while allowing me to manage projects and learn from experience. They truly empowered and equipped me to do anything I set my mind to. One of my favorite quotes that Greg always said was “The difference between people who do big things in life and those who don’t is that they actually go out and do them.” This has always challenged me to not settle for mediocrity, but to be intentional about chasing and achieving my dreams.

Be sure to check out the fashion blog by Go Alumni, Lauren Palomares and Lindsey Clark, at coasttocoastchallenge.wordpress.com

Want to be on the inside track of all things GO International? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-blasts and receive inspirational articles, current news and updates in your inbox. If you would like to donate to Go International or join our South American Operational Support Team click here.  Help spread the word and post this article to Facebook or Twitter.

#go_inspiration - One Life


One life. You are here on planet earth for a reason. You could have been born in any other time of history- yet you are here now. You have been gifted with talents, dreams and desires; not by accident, but with a purpose. You only get one life, this is not a dress rehearsal, there are no do overs, you only get to live each moment once. What matters at the end of the day is what you did with it.

How will you spend this one life that you have been given?

You’ve got dreams, you’ve got ideas but you have no clue where to begin.  Don’t worry, you are not alone.  If you are like most of us, getting started on something as important as “living your dream” can be a daunting task.  It’s kind of like staring at a blank canvas. Where do you start? What do you paint? What colors should you use? If you are honest, it’s hard to not be intimidated by the void of “what could be”.  The ominous “What if’s” race through our mind as we struggle on where to begin...

What if you make a mistake?

What if you fail?

What if no one likes what you make?

Well, what if?

Let’s just be real for a second:

Chances are you will probably make a mistake.

You may fail. You may also succeed.

You have been given unique talents and gifts.  You are unlike anyone else. Yet as humans we struggle with the dichotomy of wanting to stand out (embracing our uniqueness) and wanting to blend in and be accepted by society.  The bible puts it like this in Romans 12:2, “ Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There is a pattern of life that most people follow.  They file in, single file marching along through life never lifting up their head, simply trudging along in the well worn paths that others have carved out for them.  Only pausing at brief moments to ask themselves, “Is this the life I really wanted?”

You are in charge of your life. You are not a victim of your circumstances or surroundings.  Don’t get hung up blaming others for the way that your life should be, start making your life be what you want it to be. To do this it takes boldness. It takes courage, it takes standing out from among the masses and doing things different.

Most people let fear stop them.  There are so many “What if’s” when it comes to living your dream.  Most people let these “what if’s” paralyze their dreams into a life of restrictive confinement. You’ve felt it before, passion stirring in your soul, excitement about an idea, a feeling as though you were born to do this. Then inevitably fear comes, ominously looming overhead, you worry,  “what will people think of me if I tried?”

And what of the critics? They seem to circle like vultures the second that a dreamer chooses to begin. They are there to kindly remind you to; keep your head on straight, don’t get your hopes up, pull your head out of the clouds and tell you numerous stories of how they too tried and failed. I submit to you this thought:  We are not to live a life dictated by our critics. Like the composer Jean Sibelius said, “Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.”

In your life there will ALWAYS be people who will tell you that you can’t, that it is impossible, that you are not smart enough, old enough, you don’t have enough money, you’re not from the right family, and on and on and on… They will tell you these things because this is what they see as truth and this truth has become their reality. The good news is; this doesn’t have to become YOUR reality.

When you listen to the critics it’s easy to rationalize away your dream, and thus fail before you even begin... and the worst part is that only you will know the failure.  Trapped in silent suffering, and great loneliness for only you are aware of the great fear  that lies within which does not dare to venture.

We all have only this one life.  Let us silence our critics and dare to let the adventurer within be freed.  Will you make mistakes?  Yes.  Will you have some failures?  Most definitely.  But will you have lived?  Absolutely.

How will you choose to live your one life?

I leave you with the words of Teddy Roosevelt in the Man in the Arena.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 


This has been the first installation of #go_inspiration, the new weekly collaboration between Go International and artists of Instagram in which we seek to provide continued inspiration through articles and art. Every week artists from across the globe will upload their photos to Instagram and hashtag them #go_inspiration.  Our featured artist will choose their favorite photo.  At the end of the year Go will compile all the winning artists work into an inspirational book called #go_inspiration. Last week’s theme was “One Life and the @bcreativetulsa was chosen as this week’s  contest winner by featured artist @justinkila.

Join us for this week’s #go_inspiration where artist and photographer Katie O’toole inspires us to “Risk”.  @__KTO has traveled to 14 different countries and her unique works has been featured in both national and international magazines.  Her travels recently took her to Australia, and she currently resides in Oklahoma. To join in this week’s contest CLICK HERE for more details!

Go Snapshot: This Week At Go Nov 10

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Open Doors:  If there were a theme to this week that would have to be it.  In moving here we felt in our hearts that the first phase of establishing our base would be Community Integration and Needs Assessment.  Basically, building relationships and networking with others to see where Go can best contribute.  This week we had some key connections.

Tuesday we met with a man we worked with back in 2005 who runs a media company and a non profit foundation.  There are many ways it looks like we’ll be able to work together.  He has open doors with schools, rescue homes, and medical outreaches as well as inroads in both business and government.  He has offered to help us however he can, so we look forward to seeing how this partnership develops.

We had the opportunity to speak at OneHeart once again this week where we had an incredible time sharing with young professionals and college students on how to develop creative thinking in our lives.  Greg also spoke at a local church on Thursday about Living Beyond Normal.

Next Week On Tuesday we have a meeting with some fellow missionaries who are starting a rescue home for at risk girls here in Quito, so we are excited to see if there are ways we may be able to work together!  Thursday we have been invited to speak to the staff at the national offices for Compassion International about creativity in the workplace. We are honored that so many doors have opened for us to share with people immediately upon our arrival!

Thank you for your continued prayer and support.

Journeying Together,

Greg, Christa, and Zion Baca

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Earlier this week Go launched a new web based campaign called: #go_inspiration. The concept of this campaign is to inspire people through the use of art.  By using the Instagram platform we hope to engage artists with the inspirational message of the gospel while simultaneously giving them a way to use their artistic abilities to inspire one another. This week’s featured artist is @justinkila with his take one our theme of “One Life”.  To read more about this campaign or to see some of this week's entries CLICK HERE.

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LIFE IN ECUADOR Each week we highlight a little bit of the personal side of our Life in Ecuador.  Follow Zion as he shows you how we get around on this edition of Life In Ecuador.

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alumni_matt

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Check out this week’s edition of Alumni Spotlight, where we catch up with previous interns and staff to see what they’ve been up to.  This week we talk with adventurer and creator of EpicUncertainty.com, Matt Arbo.  Matt interned with Go for two years and graduated the program in 2011.  Matt is always an inspiration to us and we thought he might just inspire you too!  [READ MORE...]

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current_needs

CURRENT NEEDS Even though our funding was not completed prior to our move we felt in our hearts to make the move and trust God.   We are still in need of the following: Funding for Visas:  $1,500 Basic Home Furnishings: $1,000 Media Equipment:  $3,000 Setup Fee’s:  $2,000

If you would like to become a monthly partner and join the Operational Support Team or make a one time donation to go towards any of the items mentioned above CLICK HERE.

Want to be on the inside track of all things GO International? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-blasts and get current news and updates in your inbox. If you would like to donate to Go International or join our Operational Support Team click here.  Help us spread the word about what Go is doing and post this article to Facebook or Twitter.