February 5, 2015 was one for the scrapbook...Along with celebrating a whole year in remission from lymphoma, the Lord used my life to officially start an organization for young adults affected by cancer. Spark the Way has been one giant leap of faith after another- like starting on a road trip without having the directions. I didn't have the exact layout or plan of what Spark the Way was supposed to do. All I knew for sure was that I was called to go along for the ride, no matter the distance, the bumps in the road or the destination, I was called to use my cancer season as a platform to bring the Light of the world to some of the darkest battles in the world.
In this 3 month trip, I've learned that God definitely doesn't need any talent or qualification of mine, He just needs my "yes!". The quote "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called" came to life (thanks drew). I'm 22 with a general AA degree. I'm not qualified to lead Board meetings. I'm not qualified to pitch business plans to crazy rich and brilliant CEO's. I'm not qualified to...the list goes on. But I've read stories of fishermen changing the world because they said yes to Jesus, so I thought I could too...
"As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send yo out to fish for people." At once, they left their nets and followed him." Matt 4:18-20
So the road trip begins and so do my questions, but more than my questions, my prayers. Prayer is under credited (is that a word? it's a word). At least it was in my life. I've seen how powerful it is, but at some point, I lost sight and started to credit my thoughts the power that prayer deserved. Then I end up bummed because thoughts can only get me so far. Thinking about something and praying about something are two completely different ballgames and only one takes you on that ultimate victory lap. It hasn't been my thoughts that have caused these outrageous meetings to happen, these "high society" people to cross my path or these doors to open in places that really had no business of opening for an under qualified 22 year old. But it's been waking up every single morning and praying,
"To a God who can do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine,
I come to you with positive expectations knowing that you have no limits.
I ask your Spirit to control my mind. I promise to not be discouraged by prayers that've gone unanswered. I'll remember that time is a trainer, teaching me to trust you in the dark. I promise to view difficulties as setting the scene for Your glorious intervention, God. And I will keep my eyes and mind wide open to all that You're doing in my life. Amen!"
I've learned more about his limitless character these past few months than ever before. It's been fun, but it's also been hard. It's forced me to let go of control and caused me to go way out of my comfort zone...which is the only way I can present to you: Sparko de Mayo!
I won't bore you with too many details, but Spark the Way became apart of Give Day Tampa Bay- a day to bring awareness to your Tampa Bay nonprofit and raise money. When we started off, we were under the impression we had a space in Channelside to set up a table and tent to promote. Then, a Give Day meeting told us otherwise- we could hang out at Channelside and pass out promo materials but we didn't have a space. Then we met a man who said don't worry about that rule, keep your table and tent plan. Then we got a phone call the next day that said that man was wrong. Needless to say, the stress was rising and the plan kept changing.
I thank the Lord every minute I think of the AMAZING team that took on Sparko de Mayo. No matter what the plan was, they were in. They shifted with the changes and were ready for whatever this 9 hour party was going to bring on...
Gabby, Alaina & I got there with the car loaded and prepared for a corn hole-table-tent setup and for a simple promo pass out frenzy, either way we were going to Spark Channelside... About an hour of being there and getting frustrated at God for not not making it easy to get a spot outside, we settled. We set out to pass out promo material. That lasted about 2 minutes before 102.5 The Bone tent offered to share their space with us...
Spark the Way was the only nonprofit that was setup in Channelside and I'm telling you...Zach, Gabby & Alaina KILLED it. These guys were taking on corn hole challengers all night, pouring out the Spark the Way mission to anyone that seemed the slightest bit interested and really, these guys just kept the party going and people coming. This night would've been nothing without them. We met young adults who have battled cancer or who are taking care of someone with cancer. It showed us the need for this organization in this city and I am SO excited to see it being carried out!
We made it onto Fox 13. We were promoted on Hot 101.5 and made lasting connections with these awesome, awesome guys from 102.5 The Bone. All because we were the only nonprofit setup in Channelside. We were also the only nonprofit that had someone covering the night in prayer every single hour (I think). PRAYER IS POWERFUL.
3:00 Matt Ashwood
4:00 Heather Gilstrap
5:00 Kelli Wright
6:00 Alexis Freedman
7:00 Taylor Herbolsheimer
8:00 Tara Kushnir
9:00 Katie Gisonni
10:00 Heather Morris
11:00 Mr. Ralph
12:00 Sparkler Cleanup Crew
THIS LIST IS WHY WE STOOD OUT. This prayer is why we were different from the rest. Besides Jesus, the people praying every hour on the hour receive the credit for God's blessings over Sparko de Mayo. In my opinion. Am I expecting everyone to see this the same way I do? Nope. But I sure hope it causes people to think about the why... why we get these doors opened, why we meet the people we do, why we receive offers we have no business of receiving.
All of this to say, Sparko de Mayo was a crazy success!! People drove all the up to Tampa to support, donate and encourage! (HUGE thank you to you guys!!!) Strangers heard the name and mission of Spark the Way and money was raised (some of that thanks to Zach's quick thinking)- the girls went to pick up food and we came back to Zach charging people for leftover sombreros that were donated to us. Needless to say, we were laughing pretty hard...
Anyways! here's to YOU for making it all the way through this post- thank you for loving, caring and reading Spark the Way! This is just the beginning, Sparks! :)
And an extra big thank you to all who were apart of Sparko de Mayo!
To Harborside Church for corn hole,
to the Freedmans for the white folding table,
to Mr. Courtney for our picture backdrop,
to Gabby Shatto for the gold mason jars,
to Alaina Courtney for the cupcakes,
to Zach, Gabby & Alaina for giving up their night
and to all who donated financially to make this night happen,
thank you for helping us Spark the Way!
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12