What kind of blog title is cg?

It is a title created by a crazy mind who sees things a little weirdly.

It is a title that would be discouraged by the great and successful in the blogosphere.

It is a title made of the initials of two things that have been meaningful in my life.

Camp Gladiator and Community Groups

Perhaps that should have been the title (of course in all lowercase). You would at least have known a little bit about what you were getting into.

CG represents two things that seem to be very different – a fitness “bootcamp” and a weekly church group – but have more in common that you might realize.

I started Camp Gladiator (CG) in 2017 with my friend Sandra. We got a free month and decided to jump in. That first workout on January 2nd was a beat down. So hard! That “dizzy head I might pass out” hard. If you are in great shape you may not know what I am talking about there. But, we went back. Most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 5:15 am (yes, 5:15 happens twice each day) we were there. Not only did we go back during our free month, we kept going back, committing to a year of this craziness.

What kept us going back?

We had an amazing trainer, Shannon, who cheered us on and gave us modifications as needed. Shannon believed in us. Shannon pushed us. That was huge. But, that alone wouldn’t have been enough.

My amazing trainer, Shannon

What kept us going back?

In a word – Community

There was a group of people from all different walks of life who were there to make healthy choices and cheer others on in the process. I never felt like they were judging me as I finished a lap last or had to take a moment to breathe. There were high fives, and “good jobs,” and “you can do it.” There were celebrations of new achievements and gracious “we missed you” when gone for travel (or sleep). There were friendships made.

Besides my friend Sandra, there was Katie, Sabra, Brad, Schakira, Kiki, Elisha, Amber, and a host of others who welcomed me into the group. There was another trainer, Becky, who always called us athletes as she pushed us to keep going.

After my 100th check in with Katie, Sandra, Sabra, Brad, and Schakira

Not only did this group of people cheer for each other, they would take time to help the new people make sure their form was correct, understand the CG specific “lingo,” and explain various exercise combos. There was joy in seeing each other succeed.

I remember talking to my amazing husband about this experience with CG, trying to explain it to an “outsider.” (He was a bit surprised that I kept getting up at 4:40am, not being a natural early morning person). In my explaining, I had an “a-ha!” moment.

Camp Gladiator camps (at least the ones I visited) function as the body of Christ should function.

A group of people with a similar goal who

 encourage each other

give friendly correction when needed

welcome new people

work hard together

laugh together

Of course, there isn’t a perfect correlation, but perhaps some of our churches could take lessons.

And it is this thought that brings me to my second “cg” – Community Group.

When my honey and I showed up in Kansas City, we knew we wanted to find a church. Through God’s gracious hand of providence, we had already found a church we wanted to visit. Soon after visiting we were invited to try out a community group. On the church website the first sentence under the vision for these community groups is “Community Groups exist to see the people of Emmaus Church experience gospel-centered belonging, discipleship, and commission with one another for the glory of God.” If you want to read the full community group vision statement, you can see it here.

Our community group is composed of people from all different walks of life who are there to display and declare the glory of God and to encourage others on in the process. I never feel like they are judging me as I confess my sins, share my dark heart moments, or for just being my goofy self. There is gospel truth, accountability, “you are loved,” and “I am praying for you.” There are celebrations of God’s work in our lives and gracious “we missed you” when gone for travel (or work). There are friendships made. There is family.

Olive, Allie, me, Katy, Rebecca, Risa, Tori – Valentine’s night Community Group

When I look at my list above of what I loved about CG “bootcamp,” I see quite a bit of similarity between it and our community group.

Our community group is a group of people with a similar goal who

encourage each other – we pray for each other and speak the gospel into each other’s lives as well as giving practical help (babysitting, airport drop offs, meals)

give friendly correction when needed – we confess sins to each other and then come alongside one another in prayer and in speaking truth

welcome new people – our group has marrieds, singles, couples with kids, couples without kids, college students, graduate students, professionals, stay at home moms, and empty nesters – all are welcome

work hard together – we come together to volunteer at church and in the community

laugh together – we do this a LOT

Being a part of community requires giving, not just receiving. It requires vulnerability. It requires commitment. If you are in a place where you are lacking community, I pray that you will find it.


drawing near – part 2

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to [Jesus].” – Luke 15:1

It was almost a month ago that I wrote about some of my thoughts on this verse here. I still read this verse and pause. There is a conviction that comes to my heart as I read about these tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Jesus, because often I do not.

I know Jesus is my Savior.

I can tell you how amazing He is.

how kind

how good

I can tell you about the times I spend with Him in scripture.

He feeds my soul.

He is the giver of life.

I can tell you specific stories where He has met me in my need

with compassion,

with truth.

But when I read this passage in Luke, I felt my heart sink as I realized that as much as I know all of this, I don’t always choose to draw near to Jesus.

I am easily distracted.

I want to be entertained.

I am thankful that His love for me is not conditioned on my performance. I am thankful that He has perfectly drawn near to the Father on my behalf. And, I am thankful that His Spirit reminds me that I need to draw near to Him

not out of obligation,

but because I NEED Him every minute of the day.

I am also thankful for a friend’s encouragement to read through the New Testament chronologically this year, one chapter a day. five days a week. This journey has pushed me to draw near to Jesus. It is April and we are still in the gospels, the first four books of the New Testament. I am not rushing through but slowing down to see Jesus even more clearly. This is a gift.

I am also thankful that my church is studying the gospel of John this year. Each week, our pastors take us slowly through John’s account, reminding us that the purpose of John is “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).” Oh, how good it is. You can find most of the messages on the website here or you can watch the Facebook live videos. Each week is a gift.

This past Sunday, we were in John 6:60-71 when many of Jesus disciples chose to leave him. He looks to the 12 and asks if they want to go too. I love Peter’s response:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (verse 68).”


I want this to be my response to Jesus.

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work in my heart, conforming my desires to His desires. My prayer is that I would choose to draw near to Jesus rather than other things. My prayer is that I would encourage others to draw near to Him as well.

table 432

Getting ready to board the Splendor

It has been almost two weeks since I returned from a fantastic spring break adventure with my number one girl. We cruised out of Long Beach to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas and had a most excellent time. She is a pretty cool travel buddy! If you haven’t met her – you are missing out.

Before our trip, I expected to have a lot of fun with my girl.

I did.

I expected to see beautiful parts of God’s world.

I did.

I expected to enjoy relaxing with a good book on the deck of the boat.

I did.

What I did not expect was to find an amazing group of diverse people who would feel like family by the end of the week.

I did not expect “table 432.”

You might be wondering. “what in the world is table 432?”

I will try to explain, knowing that my words and descriptions will probably fall short.

Table 432 was the table Kenzie and I were assigned to for dinner each night in the dining room. On the first night, there was just one other couple at our table that had chairs for ten. So, we had fun getting to know Jeanette and Adam from Vancouver that night. And we all wondered where the rest of our table mates were. We had no idea what we were in for.

The next night our group of four was joined by Heather and Teresa – friends from Iowa; Sherry, Barbara, and Maya – three generations from Los Angeles; and Karla and Desi – friends from San Diego. We went from four to eleven and never looked back.

It was truly amazing how quickly we all seemed to feel comfortable with each other. We met for breakfast many mornings, went on adventures in Puerto Vallarta together, enjoyed afternoon tea, and spent time getting to know each other. One night a few of us sat on the deck until almost 2am just sharing a little bit about our lives and learning what we had in common.  Each personality was unique. Each personality had something to offer.

I could write a paragraph about each of these people God brought into my life but I am going to go with the first word that comes to mind.

Towel Elephant

Jeanette – kind

Adam – welcoming

Desi – generous

Karla – adventurous

Barbara – wise

Sherry (Barbara’s daughter) – joyful

Maya (Sherry’s daughter) – energetic

Heather – witty

Teresa – friendly

There are some other fun things about these people – like Karla owns a SLOTH!!! Sherry and Heather have both worked with juveniles that are in the “system.” Maya and Teresa love to dance. Adam loves to organize (he was our personal cruise director), and Jeanette teaches primary school. Sherry has an infectious giggle; Barbara goes by Nonna (NOT Nana) to her many grands and great grands (might even be some great great grandchildren); and Desi is very hospitable. I mean we played 2 truths and a lie with these people.

After just 5-6 days with these people, this is what I know about them. I am sure if I had Kenzie on the phone right now she would have fun things to add. This random group of strangers thrown together by Amith, the maitre’d of the Gold Pearl Dining Room, ended up being our little cruise family for the week. (Okay, I believe we were thrown together by the providence of God who used Amith in this way).

Would we have been friends if we had met in different circumstances? Maybe. If we would have filled out questionnaires (like colleges have for roommate assignments), I don’t know if we would have been matched with this group. I am not sure if we see eye to eye on politics, and I know we have some varying religious views. But, I also know that this was the very table at which we were meant to be. These were the people we were supposed to meet. Our experience was richer because of each of them. And, I have new friends I look forward to seeing again because of table 432.

This experience reminded me of the importance to always look at the people God brings across my path with His eyes – as people created in His image.

It reminded me of the joy in experiencing life WITH others rather than in isolation.

It reminded me of how it is worth it to be vulnerable with others and open up our lives and hearts to them.

So, look around your world. Is there a “table 432” where God has placed you? If so, I would love to hear about it.


Top -Sherry, Me, Kenzie, Heather, Barbara; Middle – Desi, Maya, Teresa; Bottom – Jeanette, Karla, Adam (taken of the picture we bought)