PictureA painting of the front doors of my church.
It’s official! I have my first speaking engagement as a LIGHTbeamer.

Ok, I'm not sure this exactly qualifies as a speaking engagement but someone did ask me to speak — specifically about LIGHTbeamers — and that sent me over-the-moon. Thankfully, the crowd will be very small and the setting will be friendly and safe; It will be the perfect place to speak for the first time and share this journey. So where is it, and what will I be sharing? I’ve been asked to speak before a Sunday School class at my church — to share the inspiration for starting LIGHTbeamers, and to share some of my stories. The class is titled Front Porch Faith — designed for church members to share the sense of call and presence of God in the story of our lives.

If you’re new to LIGHTbeamers, I will tell you my angle is not always a religious one. In fact, it rarely is.   In my stories, I don’t quote scripture or elaborate on my spiritual connections. However, without a shadow of a doubt, I fully recognize and give credit to God for guiding me and directing me to the LIGHT. For me, the LIGHT is all about faith, devotion, hope, love, inspiration, guidance. God is in all that we do. God is our Light. And He was 100% the designer and creator of this blog. As I’ve said from the beginning, LIGHTbeamers was not my idea, it was His (you can read more about that here).

Though His presence is comforting, the truth of the matter is I have never in my life taught an adult Sunday school class — the kid version is way more my speed — and this scares me just a wee little bit. This is way outside my comfort zone, and definitely not something I’ve ever put on a vision or dream board. Speaking to a live audience is just so different than sharing my words on paper, or talking into a camera as my career as led me to do. But 2015 has been all about new challenges — I mean, starting a new blog from scratch is a big challenge! — and I so clearly see that by me doing this, the Doors have opened for so many other opportunities to come my way. And so far, each of them has been a blessing — they have shined LIGHT into my life. So, I am trying to keep this in mind while preparing for Sunday’s talk. I am reminding myself that God is leading this march, and He’s obviously dreaming bigger dreams for me. I need to remain open to the lessons and the LIGHT that will come from this experience. All I have to do is simply walk through that Door. After all, The LIGHT is so gorgeous on the other side of fear, hesitation, worry, and doubt.

This has been an unexpected surprise as I have not considered the opportunity of sharing LIGHTbeamers in this way. But now the Door is open... and I wonder where else could I be sharing the LIGHT outside of my written words? Where else can I go to create an uprising of LIGHT in others? Where else can I speak stories of LIGHT? I want more… this is motivating me to seek it!  

Something I continue to dream about is creating a Community of LIGHTbeamers. I do not know how this is going to take shape yet — but I want you all to know you are welcome at any time to share your own stories of LIGHT here. This is an open and welcome forum. Like I’ve been asked to do on Sunday, I want to invite you to share your own Front Porch stories. Where is the LIGHT showing up for you? Who is shining a LIGHT in your life? You’ve read my stories here — there is no magical formula for this. It’s just me sharing experiences. You can do this, too! I know — I can hear you now — “But April, I am not a writer”. This is no excuse for hogging all of your LIGHT stories and keeping them to yourself! I’ll be your partner and will help you with the words. Let’s make this happen. I want to Open the Door and let the LIGHTbeamer Community come to life. I’m putting this out there to the world because I fully believe God is challenging me to want more, ask for more, write more and, yes  — speak more. And I want to do the same for you. The invitation is open. I’ll speak on Sunday and share my stories of LIGHT; you consider sharing your story with us here. The Door is open.

Comment below - share your stories here. Or email me directly and together we can share stories of LIGHT. I can't wait to here from you!

 
 
This past weekend, I participated in a unique physical challenge unlike anything I’ve ever done. It’s called a “GORUCK Light” — a 7-hour test of your physical endurance and mental strength. Of course, I was initially attracted to this idea by the sheer name of it - “Light” - but also because a group of my workout buddies were also signing up for the Challenge and I wanted to be a part of the group! But what really attracted me to this was the fact the emphasis was on Teamwork - not competition - and that this was an Event - not a race. This was not just another 5K or mud run. This was different. Different is good.

After months of training with my friends, Ruck day was finally here. We started at 2:00 PM.  40 people from all across the South gathered with backpacks (Rucks) loaded down with 20-pounds worth of bricks, headlamps, food, water, and Advil. We were led by a “Cadre”  — a former USA military Special Ops guy who has seen more and done more than any of us ever want to imagine. He has our utmost respect and we haven’t even learned his name yet.

The excitement and nerves you experience going into an event like this for the first time are jittery at best, downright fearful at worst. But going into the unknown is part of the fun.
PictureRaising a RUCKus at a local Fire Station
For the next 7-hours, we completed an intense 1.5 hour PT test (think bootcamp on steroids, while wearing weighted backpacks); mud-wrestled our way through some of the craziest team exercises anyone could ever dream up; hiked through snake infested waters; paraded our muddy, stinky selves through Downtown carrying an American flag and a metal sled full of weights during a busy Saturday night; jumped into a rushing river to complete a series of pushups, squats and flutter kicks — all to the amazement (amusement?) of downtown onlookers; then stopping by a local Fire Station to give the firemen the thrill of hosing us down while doing more exercises on our Cadre's command. I literally never knew fire hoses had a setting on them safe enough to spray humans. They do! And I can honestly say it was a thrill of a lifetime.

Throughout the challenge, these 40 people, in one way or another, shined their LIGHT in so many ways. It’s impossible — even for someone like me who loves to share her words — to explain and describe how meaningful these LIGHTbeamer moments were, but here’s what I witnessed or experienced first hand:

  • The team of support from our family, friends, fellow bootcampers, and "shadows"  - as they call it in the GORUCK  world - was unending.  From homemade signs from our children saying "Go Mommy" and "Ruck On, People" to the cheers from the sidelines all along our route, everyone who showed up to lend their support and encouragement probably has no idea how much it meant to the rest of us. It was so humbling and motivating.  The "shadows" shined their LIGHT.
  • 3 of the men who completed the Light challenge with us had just finished a “Tough” challenge moments before, which lasted over 16-hours long. The back-to-back challenges meant they Rucked for 24-hours straight. Anytime one of us started to feel tired or tested, we just looked at one of them for inspiration. Those guys are hard core Rockstars and I had the privilege of rucking along side one of them for most of the day. Though exhausted and nearly delirious, they shined their LIGHT.
  • Different people were asked by the Cadre at different intervals to step up and be our “leaders”.  Strangers among us, they rallied the troops and led us through the different phases of our challenge — communicating team needs, directing people to take over carrying loads of weight, keeping us all marching in formation and motivating us with words of encouragement. They shined their LIGHT.
  • During our stop at the Fire Station — after the Cadre had his way with us — he gathered us around for a heartfelt speech about the tremendous work firefighters do in our community. It was a reminder that there are heroes among us. They work tirelessly; they are highly trained yet poorly payed; and when disaster strikes, they go into burning buildings for the sole purpose of saving lives — our lives. This occurred at hour #6 of our challenge, and our hearts soaked up every syllable he spoke. The Cadre and the Firemen shined their LIGHTS.
  • Throughout the day, we shared water & snacks, lent helping hands through rocky terrain, pulled one another to safety, and carried each others weight when needed. This happened so many times, I lost count. Every single teammate shined their LIGHT. 
  • At the end, as we were literally hiking to the finish line in the dark with nothing but our headlamps on to guide the way, one of my friends grabbed my hand and squeezed it — a solitary signal of “Atta girl”, “We did it”, “You're RUCKING awesome”. The energy we passed to one another by simply holding hands as we marched was beautiful and LIGHT-filled. That moment will stick with me. We shined our LIGHT.
Picture40 Lights shining their LIGHT
The grand finale ended with the Cadre lining us up in the dark (it’s now 9:00 PM), coming by each one of us to shake our hands, give us a hug and pass off a “patch” which signaled we had completed the challenge.  All of this for a simple little patch that states “GORUCK Light” which we can now adhere to our Rucks.  But it's a badge of honor. We stood there battered and bruised, dirty and wet, our smiles reflected only by the light of our headlamps, hugging each other and passing out high-fives to celebrate our team victory.  40 of us started the challenge, and 40-strong we finished.

Throughout that experience —the LIGHT shined in so many ways from so many beautiful human beings. It restores your faith in people. There are a lot of generous, heart-centered souls among us. They challenge themselves, and in doing so, inspire and motivate others to do the same. The life lessons you take away from something like this go far beyond the physical self.  I encourage each of you to find something — anything — that will challenge you in a similar way.   You will find LIGHT in the craziest places!

Picture
GRL Class 718 - standing proud at about hour #5.
 

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    Hi, I'm April and I'm glad you're here. 

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