Wow, You’ve Lost Weight!

imageThere are a lot of people that love to hear these words. They put a lot of effort and time into losing weight and getting into shape, and for them, the ultimate affirmation and validation is for someone to take notice and say “Wow, you’ve lost weight!” For me, this is not the case. Since leaving Nyack for the summer break in May I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, but I did not even notice for myself until every other person who saw me said something about how much thinner I look. Most of the time my response is to tell them that I wasn’t trying to lose weight. For those of you reading this and wondering what my secret is, I wish I could tell you something profound that would make getting and staying in shape easy. All I did was eat right and run a lot. I think I look a bit too skinny, but I feel the best that I have ever felt.

CTA button for Blog UGI have been working in a medical office for a few months now, and complications resulting from unhealthy eating and lack of exercise make up a large portion of the problems that our office encounters. To be honest, it makes me fear for my own future. Anyone who has known me long enough and well enough to have eaten a meal with me knows how much and how often I can eat. With my previous eating habits I should logically be very overweight, but because I am an active, young person with a fast metabolism I have always been in good-enough shape. But from what my elders tell me, when you become a certain age your metabolism slows down and your unhealthy habits catch up with you. I decided to be proactive instead of reactive; instead of trying to fix my habits after they become a serious problem, I am changing them before they start to have detrimental effects.

I could not tell you how much weight I’ve lost since I changed my unhealthy habits. I didn’t keep track of what I weighed before hand, and I don’t keep track of it now. In my opinion, the scale is the wrong place to go to judge your progress. Your health and well being is much more than a number. What has worked wonderfully for me is to judge my progress by how I look and how I feel. If you are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, don’t do it to reach a number on a scale. Do it to improve your enjoyment of life, to reduce stress, and to lengthen your future.

#EndOfAnEra

photo (5)As a youth leader, I follow many of my students on social media such as twitter, instagram, or vine. Consequently, I regularly scroll down my news feed and see tons and tons of hash-tags. Thirteen-year-old girls have made “hash-tagging” into an art. They will post a picture and come up with at least fifty words to individually hash-tag in the caption of said picture. I have seen a lot of reoccurring hash-tags the past few weeks such as “#goodbye”, “#summer”, “#IMissYouSummer”, etc. There is one hash-tag in particular that I have seen a few times recently and that is “#EndOfAnEra”; this one hit home with me.

I have done a lot of things this summer that I have never done before. I worked as a youth leader, lived a summer at home without my brother, visited friends from college, worked several jobs, and did many more things that were new to me along with many things particular to summer. As I look back on all of that, it is sad to see those things come to an end. I’ll miss my youth group kids, I’ll miss living at home with my parents, and I’ll especially miss getting several pay-checks every week; but what happens when something ends? Something new always begins.

At first, I thought to myself, “Going to college isn’t new. I’m just headed back to the life I lived last September-May”. But, it is new. There will be new people to meet, new classes to go to, and more places to visit in Nyack. On top of all that, however, the day-to-day college life will be different because this summer transformed me into a more mature and godly person than I was last September, or even last May. I hope that the run-of-the-mill dorm life and interactions with other students are different for me this school year– not because anything around me has changed– but because I have.

So, as summer ends, remember that new things are beginning. Closure, departure, and separation make way for opening, coming, and re-uniting. God has plans bigger than you could ever imagine, and you get to be a part of it. Last week, I heard a pastor say, “God has His story written and He’s invited you to be a part of it”. As summer ends and fall semester begins, embrace God’s plan, get on your knees and thank Him for letting you be a part of it. And, while you’re at it, thank Him for beginnings.

CTA button for Blog UG

5 Packing Essentials

My room at home.

My room at home.

 

My room freshman year.

My room freshman year.

While working as a youth leader this summer, I’ve gotten to know a lot of high school students who have recently graduated and are chomping at the bit, ready to go to college. A very common question I have been asked these past few months is, “What should I pack for college?!”. Even if you’ve been in college for several years, I hope these packing tips help you out as you get yourself ready for move-in day especially if you are an incoming college freshman. Without further ado, here are my top 5 must haves of packing for school:

1) If it stacks, it comes. This could be in the form of shoe boxes filled with school supplies, mini plastic drawers to hold makeup or writing implements, or (my personal favorite) plastic milk crates. Walmart and other stores are overflowing with these crates come back-to-school season. They are a great way to transport your stuff and store it once you get in the dorm.

2) Good food. I know when some of you read the word “good” you think of cookies, candy, and chips. Those junky food items are in good supply at the corner store and are easy to get your hands on if you have an unmanageable craving. The kind of “good” food I’m talking about, is stuff full of protein and vitamins that can keep you going and keep you from the freshmen…sophomore…or even senior 15. Eating well at snack time can keep your skin clear, energy level high, and immune system at it’s best.

CTA button for Blog UG3) You don’t need all your clothes at once. As a girl and renowned over-packer, I brought way too many clothes to college my freshman year. But, what I learned is that you only need enough clothing to last from move-in to fall break. This may seem obvious, but it’s crucial. You’re big, puffy winter coat can stay home until it’s absolutely needed (at Nyack, that time will come soon enough).

4) More than one way to stay organized. I began my freshman year with a big desk calendar under the assumption that it would be my choice tool of organization, only to find out that I never used it. throughout the year, hundreds of sticky notes came to my aid to help me remember what I had to do every week. I developed a system that kept me on top of all my work and free when most social activities were taking place. My point is, don’t count on one way of being organized because you never know what will end up working best for you.

5) Take a few pieces of home. At the end of my first year, it was a little bitter-sweet to leave my dorm room behind because it had come to feel like home. I encourage any new or returning student to bring posters, pictures, and knick-knacks from home to decorate the dorm with. At the end of a long day, it feels so refreshing to come back to a comfortable, homey place.

So, with that, let the school year begin!

Christ, Our Sp “ear” itual Redeemer

A dramatic, story-version of my life events and the truth of God’s sovereignty even in creativity. Enjoy!

 

My name is Erin Fox and there has never been a more appropriate name bestowed upon a human being as Fox. I am just that, a fox. My sole defect is the fact that I have but one single ear on the right side of my head. I lost my left ear in a truck accident when I was working a job at a Christian camp during my youth. I also have an affinity for dead bodies. Maybe not so much an affinity as the fact that dead bodies always seem to find their way to me.

CTA button for Blog UGI remember the first time a dead body found me. I was a young woman in college and I was visiting the county fair. It had been deemed “Veteran Appreciation Day” and a crowd had gathered around some bent over, grey and grizzled nonagenarians. The eldest, a man in his mid-nineties, sat unassumingly before the crowd his arms and legs crossed and his tilted down. The crowd of teary eyed baby boomers dressed from head to toe in stars and stripes were so elated by the speeches and the medals handed out that they didn’t seem to notice the eldest nonagenarian slipping into the warm sleep of death. The woman handing out the medals assumed the elderly gentleman had fallen asleep when in reality he was taking his first steps into eternity.

When all was said and done and the ambulance had come and gone I made it my mission to seek out the deceased man’s body with whom I had felt an unexpected kinship to. When I arrived at the morgue I found out that the deceased had no next of kin and so I claimed him as my own. As I filled out the proper paperwork so that I became the deceased man’s kinsman redeemer, so that he became grafted into my own family, I noticed that he was, in fact, an organ donor.

I had his body, who I now knew was named John Christian, transferred to the local hospital. I inquired about his organ donation. They were happy to oblige. The nurse at the desk inquired about my missing ear. I told her the sad story about my freak truck accident and how I got my earring caught on a truck and how it wrenched the ear from my head. The nurse smiled earnestly at me,

“Bless your heart, child.” She said, “you’re in luck, we have an ear transfer specialist on staff and with Mr. Christian’s ears available, we can transfer his body parts to you.”

I knew we had had a special connection the moment I laid eyes on his sweet, sleeping face at the county fair. That day I went under the knife and John Christian’s ear became my own. For me it was a spiritual transformation. I was his and he was mine. His ear had become my own and I was born again. He had become my spiritual father and I his daughter. He gave me a most precious gift: a new lease on life.

It was like the story of the man Jesus, a Jew, God’s own son, a veteran in the spiritual battle that is life. He died and his life was supernaturally transposed to our own. Through his life and death he made us his own children and gave us, too, a new lease on life. Eternal life. I was a woman with one 20 year old ear on the right side of my head, and the saggy ear of a 90 year old man on my left. I was forever transformed.

Bye Bye Bye to Summer

Something I have had to become privy to is the reality of saying goodbye and hello to people all the time. I spend eight months of the year at school, three months at camp, and a month or so at home. I am constantly meeting new people and getting to know the most interesting friends from all over the world. But there comes a time in all those relationships where I must say goodbye and hope that I get to see them soon in another season of life. I am learning to embrace this confusing emotion in realizing that God has a plan and at last resort I know I will be spending eternity with these people.

 
Honestly this topic is hitting me intensely right now as the summer comes to an end and much of our staff is leaving and moving on to school and other things. It has truly been the greatest summer of my life, but not just because it was fun and crazy. There were surely many hard things that our staff faced this summer, but we responded to every one of them with prayer. I felt like my job this summer was made specifically for me as I was challenged to grow and learned many new things in the process.

 

God spoke to me in exciting ways this summer and helped me form many life-long relationships with some of the greatest people I have ever had the opportunity of meeting. Even though much of my team has left there are still three more weeks of camp that I am excited to be a part of. I will be doing some different jobs, but am looking forward to serving with some new people. I cannot wait to see how God moves in these last few weeks of camp even as it is coming to an end and we are all homeward bound.

 
All in all an epic summer and one to be remembered for the friendships that were made, the laughs we shared, and God continuing to show himself faithful. Goodbyes can be tough when you have gone through so much with these people, but God has the power and grace to make your paths cross again in the future he sees fit. I am praying blessing over all of the wonderful staff this summer as they head out and that we are not merely saying goodbye, but can trust that we will see each other again shortly.

Snapshot_20130507

Flexibility and Learning with God and Friends

Flexibility. That’s the name of the game. If you have forgotten or are just tuning in I’m two months into a summer away at camp. It has been an amazing journey thus far and wow have I learned a lot. It has been fun, and crazy, and emotional, but totally worth every minute of it. I have certainly learned a ton about leadership as well as seen God show up every day as he works in the lives of our staff and the campers. I have also come to realize the value in being flexible when it comes to camp or really any type of ministry.
CTA button for Blog UGIn this summer I have learned more about being open to change and to try and flow with the ups and downs that you are sure to encounter while sharing the gospel. There will be days when your alarm doesn’t go off or the rain keeps you locked inside with 150 campers all day. There are days when the microphones won’t work or you don’t get any sleep at all. But then there are days full of laughter, salvation, and the time when you get to help baptize one of your best friends. God stretches us and we have to be relaxed and moldable, but in the end God knows what he is doing and will show up in incredible ways.
So that is a small glimpse of what I have been learning as of recently this summer, but there are so many other great things happening as well. This week marks the end of the summer for a lot of staff members as it is the final week of Beulah on the Road. It will be very sad to see some people heading back to their homes and colleges spread all across the United States. However, I know and trust that these are solid friendships that I will keep throughout the years as we all think back to that crazy summer we spent together at Beulah Beach.
I am not really sure how to end this entry except for to honestly and a little cheesily thank the people who have come into my life this summer. You have truly changed my life in ways you may never even know or realize. God used each one of us to teach something to another. I will always remember this summer as one when I laughed a lot, made a ton of new friends, and saw God work every single day.
https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/1003017_10200719585526213_240483774_n.jpg

The Harlot

brazil flagAs many of you might or might not know, this Thursday I am leaving to Recife, Brazil. I am going with a ministry called ” We See Jesus Ministries”(http://www.weseejesusministries.com) . Our team is joining with Shores of Grace ministries (http://www.shoresofgrace.com) in Recife and our plan is to work with the women and children that flood the streets through the sex trafficking industry.  We are going to bring the love and light of the Father into some of the darkest corners of the earth. A light and love that I, myself need, all of the time.

I sit here thinking about the adventure I will be embarking on, about the lives I will be able to touch and the women, the women who are being abused, mistreated, judged, labeled, abandoned, rejected, devalued. And I recognize that I have been just as broken as they. And though my pain, my sufferings, could never truly be compared to theirs, we are no different. Humanly speaking, we have the same hopes, dreams, desires and longing to be loved, accepted, welcomed, forgiven, and embrace. We long for the ones who would give us a 2nd, a 3rd, or a 4th chance. In the sight of God we are identical, we are His children, whom He longs to embrace in His grace for all eternity.

Yet I find myself in a very distinct place and I wonder. I wonder, why is it that I, who have encountered the grace and love of God sell myself short for other passions, other lovers, time and time again. Why do I find myself like Paul, embracing the things I hate, while shunning the things my heart actually desires? Why is it that God has to, time and time again buy me from another? When He already paid the ultimate price for me.

I realize I am no better than an adulterous woman, I am no better than a prostitute forced to sell herself to live, I am no better than a harlot. I too needed to be rescued, I too needed a holy man to enter into the dark, unholy corners of my life and set me free. And I too have a price, sometimes, way too low for my worth, with which I sell myself to any seemingly promising lover.

I am no different from the worst and chief of all sinners and broken persons, and neither are you. While the gravity of our mistakes and failures and shortcomings varies, truth is, to 1 degree or another we are all messed up and in desperate need of grace.

And yet when the God of the universe looks at you and me, He sees a beautiful, spotless bride He longs to marry. He sees a dream come true. He is filled with unshakable desire and passion. He sees someone who’s worth exceeds the finest of diamonds and whose price would empty the bank account of the universe to pay.

 So as I go to Brazil, I go with my sin, covered by the blood of Christ ever before me.  I have been the harlot, but today I am the Bride of Christ.  I go with a new perspective. One that recognizes that the most important thing one could ever offer/receive is the love of God. Because only a true a encounter with the love of the Father could set the captive free. Only His love can heal the sick, only His love can save a lost and dead soul. It is only by HIS love.

 “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”– Hosea 2: 19-20

Road Trip!

Road TripMy family and I recently drove all the way from New York to Florida for the second time in my life. Our main reason for taking this trip is so that my younger brother and cousin are able to experience things like Disney Land and Sea World during their childhood, but the adults on the trip are appreciative of this vacation as an opportunity to escape from work and enjoy a nice resort with family. My family chose to drive down because it is cheaper, but we also believe in the value of experiencing a long road trip, especially in the summer weather. Through the full bladders and cramped legs, we were able to make it to our destination and enjoy ourselves during the ride.

There is not that much that I remember about my family’s first road trip to Florida since I was ten years old at the time, but I remember a few blatant differences between my first and most recent drives. First was how much less room there was in the car this time. Last time we took two cars, but this time we shoved seven people and their luggage into an eight-seat car. The most amazing thing is that my mom was able to maneuver  and situate so many people and so many belongings without compromising anyone’s comfort. Even with enough leg room, it was difficult to stay comfortable and restful for nearly a full 24 hour drive. Towards the end everyone, myself included, began to become restless and agitated, but thankfully we were able to contain ourselves for the rest of the ride.

CTA button for Blog UGThe second difference between the two that I saw was how much more of the drive I payed attention to and enjoyed as opposed to the first trip. At ten years old, I was not very capable of focusing my attention on what was right in front of me. I had the bad habit of looking forward to the exciting things of the future while disregarding the situation at hand. Now that I am older and more mature, I can be attentive toward what is going on directly in front me, such as what routes we take to get you to Florida, and how much money gets spent on gas.

The third and biggest difference between the first trip and this trip is my turn driving. Obviously, I did not get this opportunity ten years ago. We split the driving between the five licensed drivers, each having a shift of three hours. I had the fourth shift, which caused me to be driving through Virginia and North Carolina. Throughout the trip, but especially while I was driving, I noticed how much cheaper gas is in every state. Only a few places in Virginia had gas pricing similar to New York’s. I also enjoyed the scenery and conversations while I was driving.

If you have the option between driving and flying, then I would suggest driving. When in a large enough group, driving is much more cost efficient, and it is definitely more fun. It may be stressful or uncomfortable at times, but the overall outcome of a road trip is a good time.

Fun Summer Livin’…On a College Student Budget!

photo 1 (1)I love summer break, I really do. But, I have come to realize that the prime purpose of my summer is to make money (rake in the cash, if you will). Since I’m working a few jobs during my summer away from Nyack College, I have really exciting bi-weekly Fridays as I receive pay check after pay check. More often than not, it’s tempting to channel all that excitement into pampering my newly wealthy self with a mani-pedi, or dinner and a movie, or all of the above. But, since growing up is all about making wise choices, and being in college means growing up, I find myself doing most of my summer livin’ on a budget. I can imagine that many other college, and even high school, students find themselves in the same situation and, like I do, they struggle with how to have a fun summer with out spending a lot of money. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking outside the box:

CTA button for Blog UG

 

 

Go exploring: This is one of my most favorite things. I love to bike, and finding new bikephoto 1 trails is always thrilling. I also suggest going on a walk with a friend in a park you’ve never been to before, or through a neighborhood that you usually just drive right past.

Host a “dinner and a movie” night: I love to cook; it is literally my last name. Instead of going out with friends for dinner and a movie, have everyone bring a movie to your house and cook a meal together. You can

photo 2 (1)make something easy like pasta, or something more daring like chicken cordon bleu. If it’s a nice night, break out the grill. Then, watch a movie or two while you eat.

Hangout with Jesus over coffee: Have some friends over and make a pot of coffee. Use stuff you have around the house like chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, sugar, etc. and make a coffee bar (If you want, ask all your guests to bring their favorite ice cream topping then surprise them when they find out they’ll be putting it in coffee). Then, while you all enjoy your drinks, have a Bible study or time of worship. This is great for small intimate groups, and it can be really refreshing to have some real, deep conversations with some people you love.

Create and decorate: This may be geared a little more toward the ladies, but my roomie and I love crafts. You can get cheap little magnet or sun-catcher sets at Walmart, and it’s so fun to get together with friends and make decorations for your dorm room. photo 2It doesn’t have to be your roommate– it can be anyone. I also love friendship bracelets, so if you’re doing this with friends from home, making bracelets can be a cute bonding activity for pre-separation.

So stay on that budget, all you crazy college kids, and don’t forget to think outside the box!

“Man plans, and God laughs.”

61199_1633653200159_118979_n

“Man plans, and God laughs” —Yiddish Proverb

Recently, I’ve had a lot of plans.
Recently, nothing has gone as planned. 

If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I run a worship practice every Wednesday night for the teens in my youth group. Two weeks ago, I was hoping to work with just the singers (since there are usually about 8-10 of them), but how many showed up? Just one. So, I had to shuffle things around and formulate a plan B. Last week, I was hoping to go out to dinner with my family, but had to go to a last-minute meeting for work. This week, the youth group is going on a beach trip and, unfortunately, it’s supposed to rain almost every day. Recently, my life has been a conglomeration of canceled plans, rearranged appointments, and hurried finalizations, all because my plans fail to work out…well…as planned.

CTA button for Blog UG

I’ve heard a lot of talk in my life of God opening and shutting doors. It’s a lot easier to understand God taking away opportunities or experiences when it’s obvious that they’re not pleasing to Him. The hardest thing to try and understand is why God would take away an opportunity that you’re so sure was for His glory.

I could go on about trusting God and being more relaxed with your busy schedule. But, here’s the bottom line: God knows better than me. God knows better than you. God knows better than your planner, and God knows better than your schedule. God knows what you don’t, and that’s you. That’s right, folks, God knows you better than you know yourself because he is aware of your past, present, and future (In case you haven’t noticed, you were only there for 2 of those 3 things).

Proverbs 16:3– “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
Proverbs 16:9– “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 19:21– “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

These are just some things God has been teaching me, and as I find both my summer halfway over and lots of unknowns in the year to come, these are the things I hope to remember. I truly believe that these everyday occurrences are little lessons that God sends our way, hoping that maybe eventually, we’ll catch on.

Are you interested in a Christian college?  Nyack offers great programs from nursing to criminal justice.  Request more information today!

Realize Who’s Opinions Matter Most

how do we love godNo matter where you go or what you do, you will eventually encounter people who do not approve of you. You have probably heard it said a thousand times that “You can’t please everyone,” but you might not realize how true and relevant this statement is. It took me a long time to realize this, but it is impossible to make everyone approve of the way you are and the things you do. Unfortunately, even after realizing this truth it is difficult to balance the desire to please with the inability to please everyone. I have found that the best way to find that balance is to figure out who’s opinions about you matter the most. I disagree with those who say that you shouldn’t care what people think; you simply shouldn’t be affected by what everyone thinks.

I find it helpful to classify the people in my life by the degree to which I allow their opinions to affect me. The first and most important group consists of the people who’s opinions can change me. These are the people that I trust and that are closest to me. They include my family, girlfriend, and closest friends. When they disapprove of the things I do, they are aiming to make me better, not tear me down. Be very, very careful about allowing people into this category. When you let the wrong people change you, you lose track of who you are in the process.

The second type of person is one whose opinion can affect my mood, but not my personality or my actions. These are people who I know and am familiar with, but they are not very close to me. When they have a negative opinion of me, there may be good or bad intentions behind it. They may upset me with their opinions, but they cannot change me. Do not let everyone who is friendly with you have the power to change you.

CTA button for Blog UGThe third and final type of person is one whose opinion cannot affect me at all. This group includes anyone I don’t know or know very little. When people like this disapprove of me, I ignore them. Negative opinions from this type of person should be brushed off and ignored. There is no reason to let someone upset you or change you when they do not know you or have your best interest in mind.

It is liberating to understand that few people’s opinions of you should really be very important to you. Enacting this concept in your life will help you to stop stressing over what people think of you, and you will expend less time and energy trying to gain their approval. Only be truly concerned with the opinions of people who have your best interest in mind; all other people’s negative opinions should mean little, if anything to you.

I’m the Teacher, Yet They’re Teaching Me

nyack admissions

“People brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'” –Matthew 19:13-14

photo (2) photo (1)

When you hear people talk about children, it’s not usually in the context of them being responsible, highly accomplished, or wealthy. Usually, people talk about the cute things kids do, or the earnest things they say. Children are known for being honest beings, and I believe that is exactly why Jesus entrusts his kingdom to them.

As I have said before, this summer I have an internship with a youth pastor. Part of my job is to rebuild the youth group worship team that has been falling apart recently. I have been in several worship teams over the years in various capacities, and as I like to tell my students, “I have a lot of worship team wisdom to impart”. Though that is true, I have been learning as much, if not more, from these teens as they have been learning from me.

During the school year, I had a post-it by my door that said “WORSHIP HONESTLY”. This was advice given to me by my pastor, and now boss, Justin. We were having a conversation about feeling God’s presence and being self conscious while worshiping, when he told me that the most important thing was to worship from where you are– worship honestly.

CTA button for Blog UGI have never seen a better example of honest worship than these teens. They all have different talents, backgrounds, and skill levels, yet all have one thing in common: they’re all excited to worship Jesus. I tell them that it’s important to have a true and honest heart while worshiping, because their audience will see that and follow suit. This true and honest worship is no problem for these students. I see them get up on stage, and while it may not be the best musical performance Broadway has ever seen, it’s real, and it’s honest.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would rather be led in worship by this somewhat rag-tag group of enthusiastic students than a put together church worship team. Because as Jimmy Needham says in his song Clear the Stage, “You can sing all you want to, and still get it wrong. Worship is more than a song.”

  • Real Time Web Analytics