Hind sight


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I just found an old journal.  It is really crazy reading an old journal.  I’ve seen this thing in my room for years.  I thought it was empty and I just moved it around from open spot to open spot.  A simple dust collector.  But then I opened it…

We forget simple days, beautiful sunsets, and some of the hard days.  Or, at least I do. 

Journal entry: 2009

(Day of solitude number 2)

“Started out today walking through this huge tunnel.  You could see the other side, but the light was small.  It was about the size of a house door.  As I kept walking towards the light I noticed pools of water.  You could easily take a wrong step and be waist deep into ice cold water.  The path was slim and kept getting smaller as it twisted and turned.  The tunnel started getting more cold towards the middle, and the light started to fade away.  You could not see as easily as you could in the beginning.  The pools of water were getting deeper.  I began to notice how the light would shine on the pools of water, but not the path.  It was illuminating the danger, and nothing else.  Every so often it would be so dark I couldn’t see anything. I held my hand up to my face but it wasn’t visible.  My walk turned into a shuffle, and my mind started to race.  Are there bats? Will I die?  Can I survive?  What if I die? Who will find me? Do I have enough food, or water?  Who will speak at my funeral?  I kept shuffling along, my right foot would wander, hit a puddle or two, but when I focused on the light I was able to keep going.  The light kept me going.  I put my head down, focused on what the light revealed and it became more and more bright towards the end.  I realized how important focus and trust is.  When I didn’t trust the light I fell in the water.  When I slowed down, refocused on what the light was revealing, I stayed on the right path.”

It is crazy what you can learn, and so easily forget.  Not sure what this may mean for you today, but I hope we can stay focused.  Look back on your life.  Look back on what you thought would bring you life, and what is truly bringing you life today.  What is our focus on?  Are we focused on pain, hurt, or circumstances? 

I put my foot in my mouth all the time.  I wish I could stop.  A friend of mine came to me to tell me how I make them feel.  It isn’t always good.  And sometimes I make them feel like less of a human, or how they are not smart, and do not have good ideas.  I come off as a know it all, or how my way is the only way.  I had no idea this was still part of who I was.  The beautiful part is how they revealed it all to me.  It was gentle.  It was positive, and I needed to hear it.  I want to stop being this person.  It is a small version of my old self.  It’s a version I want to cut off and throw into the fire.  But my friend lit up my darkness.  It was a form of Love.  I was able to see the puddle I was in.  I was able to stand up and try and get on the path again. 

Look back, see where you have been, find some old journals, and maybe we can understand how faithful God is.  Maybe there is hope in Jesus.  Maybe there is forgiveness in His grace.  Maybe we can see how we have grown, and how Jesus does care about our lives?

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Dead Dreams

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Dreams die

Sad, but they do.


We all have dreams, aspirations, ideas, goals, but something happens when they go unanswered for years upon years… 

When I was little I wanted to be a lot of different occupations.  One was a pizza maker.  I wanted to make pizza, eat pizza, and become the best pizza man.  In high school I wanted to get a business degree.  I thought I would go to college and apprehend a business degree.  I would open up a ski and snowboard shop, and sell outdoor sports equipment.  (Super exciting). 

Everything changes.

Im not sure when one of my dreams died.  Maybe it is too lofty, or maybe I have had too many upsets.  When you try to follow Jesus your priorities, goals, and even dreams can change.  Not in a negative way.  It is almost a reorganizing of dreams and realities.  I realized I could probably open a ski and snowboard shop.  I could be a business guy, but I didn’t believe Jesus was pushing me in that direction.  I started doing Younglife, and haven’t looked back.  That isn’t the dead dream though.  It’s a little more vulnerable than I like. 

I used to dream I would one day be married.  I would dream of who it would be, what it would be like, how we would live, how many kids and dogs, and the fun we would have.  I dreamed about the house we would live in, what kind of Dad I would be, and how much I would love my wife.  How much I would cherish my wife.  How much I would do for her, give to her, sing to her, prank her, and laugh with her.  But somewhere all of this died.  Not sure if it was all the attempts met with heartbreak, the high hopes dashed by rejection, but somewhere my ship went down.  Tragically it has been dead for a good number of years. (Ive been struggling with even spelling marriage)

As humans we expect life to play out in the way we see, want, or believe.  Almost stubbornly, or hard headed we dream.  We expect the dream to play out as we have always believed it would.  I wanted a story.  I wanted a tale of love where all who listened sat in awe and were inspired.  As humans, when it doesn’t happen, we reorganize.  We shift our thinking, our beliefs, and we let dead things be dead things.  And so for me, I began to believe it isn’t in the cards I have been dealt.  I now live life this way.  It affects the way I see, how I interact with others, and how I trust God.  Because of the way the world and my life have played out, I now cast this understanding on my dreams and on Jesus. 

Somewhere in me there is still a desire.  It’s small but it is still there.  It is a wanting, a longing, a heart wrenching ache for the seemingly impossibility of marriage.  And with this season of lent I have decided to begin to pray… again.  Pray for my dead dream.  Jesus is in the vocation of resurrection.  Jesus loves to heal, make whole, and honor our attempt.  I don’t know what will happen, and I still have trouble believing anything in this area of my life.  But, it is a start.  I hope I can land on my feet and find a new breath of life in this section of life. 

What dreams of yours are dead that need to become alive?  How has life played out for you?  Do you believe your dreams can be resurrected?  I want to be hopeful.  I want to pray.  I want to dream again.  I want to be full of awe and wonder.  I want to trust this man Jesus with all the parts of my life.  Even the parts that are dead. 

Be willing

Be ready

He is good

We are His beloved. 

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Where is your mind?

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I was once a big sneaker head.  I loved shoes.  In high school I had a new pair of shoes every three months.  Mostly to impress my friends, but I also loved the smell.  Some I would wear to match my shirt, or my hat. Some shoes I just didn’t wear.  They were special.  And, they were always on my mind.  When I got my pay check we instantly went to go buy some shoes.  I still love the smell of new shoes, but I don’t have the same desire or care. 

Your ultimate concern will be your idol.

I’ve had some moments of victory lately.  Actually using my strength to control my thoughts, and emotions.  I am not stifling or not listening to my emotions, but I am not allowing them to control me.  I have desires, I am a human, and what I do with my desire is up to me.  I will catch myself having conversations, interactions, or even emails to people in the future.  I stop, say in my head “Don’t worry”,  take a deep breath, and give thanks.  Outside of my concerns and circumstances, God is still good.  He is still my Father, He is still my teacher, and in Him I find my life and strength. 

I wan’t God to be my idol and my ultimate concern. 

I was talking with a mentor figure in my life last week.  He mentioned how He feels as if he is amazed at how great his life is.  Every morning he is blown away by his wife, and his children.  His words are, “I am the luckiest guy in the world”.  That phrase stuck in my head as we walked towards a time of worship.  I entered the doors and stood at the back.  I am not a big sitter, so I stood.  I closed my eyes, but I didn’t sing.  The songs they were singing were too big for me.  I couldn’t sing what they were singing because I wasn’t ready.  If you really stop and listen to the songs you sing, the words are scary. 

As I began to sing I heard a voice. 

“I am the luckiest God in the world”

I stopped singing again because it was overwhelming.  He is proud of us when we give our voice to sing His praise.  He is full when we pray.  He is delighted when we seek Him.  He delights in our small attempts, and honors our trial and error. 

What is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus?  Who might be blinding you from seeing Christ?  What do you go to bed thinking about, and what is on your mind when you wake up?  Why do we focus on our idols? What is your ultimate concern? Can we be idolizing things without knowing it?  Are we off track in understanding how much God delights in us as His best of all creation? 

He is good, He delights in us, and He will honor your attempts at figuring this all out. 

Let’s be known as a people who try.

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Just Try

warhol-banana-copyrightMy breakfast is smiling at me right now (As in my banana is a mouth and the two cuties are eyes)….

But still, it is a smile.

My other breakfast is not smiling.  As in my beet/broccoli/apple/pineapple/spinach juice breakfast.  That breakfast is making me hungry. 

I don’t have much to say today, partly because I do not have time, but partly because I have an empty thought life.  Don’t read into that last sentance.  I am still doing good.  I am not going to end my life.  It has been a great week.  I was introduced again to another old friend yesterday.

Meet my friend worry.

Have you ever met him? 

He is lovely

Here are the side effects of worry:

Stress

Fear

High Blood Pressure

Anxiety

Pain

Not solid stool

Shock

Loneliness

Hopelessness

Lies

Self doubt

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I worry in a day.  We do not dare try and bring our worries to Jesus.  No way.  He has much more going on, and my problems can be worked out by me.  He doesn’t need my complaints.  But, this guy Jesus made sure to tell us what he thinks about worrying. 

How much more can you add to your life?  How much more does your Father in heaven love YOU?  Humans, God thinks you are His Best Work Ever.  Ever.  I like the idea of adding to my life.  I don’t like things that take away from my life.  Those are my least favorite. 

Here are the affects of Not Worrying:

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Contentment

Life

Happiness

Solid stool

Gratitude

Time

Can we be people focused on adding to our lives?  Can we be followers of this man who says “I’ve got it”!  How do we trust this man?  How do I give Jesus my worries?  I believe it starts with trying.  Lets try.  Try to give it to him.  Give Him a chance and actually do some work to make an effort in not worrying.  Stop for five minutes, breath, lay your head down, close your eyes, listen to a song you like, and enjoy some humanity.  Maybe, just maybe, Jesus meant what He said?  Maybe it is true.  Maybe we can add to our life by not worrying? 

May we be known as people who try

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Pride or Pain

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No one tells you following Jesus is painful

Am I expecting Him, or am I expecting something? 

When you start living in community, or become a leader, your life is no longer private.  This is scary.  People can say anything they want about how you live your life and what you do.  They ask questions of appropriateness and motives.  Even if they won’t say it to your face, you will be talked about. Good and bad.  But when someone comes to you personally, you have two options.   

Do you want Him? Or, do you want it…

I have been eating better and running almost every day.  Running isn’t fun, and I have yet to be happy about it.  Eating healthy should also be called torture.  Is it too much to ask for pizza to be healthy and taste good.  Too much?  I am tired of eating Vegan Brown Rice Puffs Cereal with Cacao Crisps.  Celery with humus.  Apples for lunch, and water for dinner.  But it has all reminded me how it feels to be confronted by the Holy Spirit. 

We don’t mention The Spirit much in Christianity.  Partially because no one fully understands it.  Partially because we sound crazy.  What is a Holy Spirit/Ghost/whatever else you want to call it.  I am not going to explain the third person of the trinity, but I will tell you how I feel when confronted by Him/Her. 

It is a gentle whisper by a friend who cares.  You know it when you feel it.  It’s a push towards integrity and honesty.  It tears apart your ego, replacing it with humbleness.  It usually hurts, but given time it feels right.  The Bible talks about pruning.  We all need pruning.  We need our bad parts cut off, but it hurts initially and allows for more good growth.  We toss the bad parts in the fire and continue on.  It is a lot like your Mom sitting you down and explaining why it’s bad to hit your sister…. But you still have two options. 

Do you want Him? Or, do you want it….

I’ve been confronted face to face more times than I can count.  I’ve made more people cry than I like to believe.  It is all usually done in the name of humor, but it has consequences.  After you encounter the Holy Spirit through a friend who confronts you, you feel vulnerable, and yet comforted.  It means they truly care.  They care about you, what you do, and who you are going to be. 

An astronomical amount of time is spent praying for things.  We pray for rent, healing, groceries, happiness, friends, family, our troops, and yet we don’t pray for Him.  Do we pray for stuff, or do we pray to get to know Him?  When you get close to Jesus it can come with pain.  It is the good pain.  It comes with comfort, with humility, and a sense of protection.  He will not allow us to remain stagnant.  He will not allow us to wallow in self pity, or gratitude.  He want’s us to grow, be transformed, and live into our humanity.  Our authentic humanity.  So, sometimes it isn’t fun, but it is good.  Can we want Him more than stuff?  Can we want to be men and woman of integrity and not gratification?  Can we be more open to rebuking that leads to repentance?  Can we accept criticism, grow, and allow the spirit to comfort?

Choice one: listen and grow

Choice two: listen, ignore, and remain

You choose. 

One leads to life

The other….

What will you choose?

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Trials and Error

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I like my home.  It is a one bedroom bachelor pad.  My furniture is not made out of pizza boxes and lawn chairs, and I really do have some nice things.  Mostly from people giving me nice things.  But I like it.  I call it my refuge.  I take naps here, I have meetings here, and it is quiet.  (Until my above neighbor vacuums at four a.m….)  I am usually pretty strong most days(Mentally).  The silence doesn’t affect me too much anymore. I have learned to welcome loneliness as an old friend, but it can still ruin my day. 

I had this conversation with myself that night.

Why do I want someone to text, or call right now?  I was literally just hanging out with friends all day.  I seriously just walked through the door.  I guess what I am looking for would be a different kind of conversation.  Maybe with a girl I like.  Maybe flirty.. Maybe some vulnerability mixed w encouragement and jokes. I miss those. They are rare. It’s fun. Full. Intimate. You say things you don’t share with others, or your dudes. You have jokes and insights that make it real. You share memories and quiet moments.  And you can have silence without it being awkward.  No one has to talk and its ok. It has been a while since I’ve had someone that gives me butterflies, or anxiety. (Not sure which is which).

Can I live without butterflies?  Can I be a full, whole human if I never again have someone in my life who makes me feel like that?    

The answer is hard.  I am thirty now.  I like thirty, and I feel like I’ve been waiting to be thirty for a while.  I started listening to a.m. Radio but I haven’t yet started to read the paper.  Unless following Sac Bee on twitter counts?  But I think the answer is yes.  But here lies my fear. 

These conversations are the kind where I don’t believe, or trust Jesus.  I believe He isn’t as great as those moments, or conversations.  I don’t believe He can be as tangible another human can be.  When I am lonely, and I want someone to watch a movie with Jesus does not occupy physical space and cuddle me.  It would be strange because He’s a dude.  But, if I am honest, I don’t really try.  I wallow. So, that is why my answer is yes.  He can be that tangible.  I usually don’t let Him. 

When we are in times of trouble, anger, and emotions overwhelm He is there.  When we are afraid, lonely and depressed, He is there.  Are we willing to look.  To sit, ask, seek, knock, and thank Him for those terrible feelings.  It is not easy.  It does get better.  I had a hard day yesterday.  I was depressed.  But I also had a lot of great things happen, but I was still depressed.  I welcomed it as an old friend.  I smiled because I was human.  I thanked Jesus for giving me the opportunity to be depressed.  I made peace with it, and I let it be.  I didn’t try to change it, I just let it be.  I fell asleep and woke up the next day feeling awesome.  Until you can become thankful for all human emotions, situations, and nuances, He will remain un-tangible, and we will refuse to grow and mature. 

Let’s welcome our old friends with open arms

It’s nice to see you again loneliness, where have you been, I have missed you. 

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Stop the Buckets

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I don’t believe in Bucket lists

They are not helpful

I actually believe they are sin

I received a bachelors in people watching.  Truly there is a degree where you are trained in analyzing people and businesses to make them more efficient.  I often don’t understand why, or how people operate.  How can you stand in front of a large menu and still take fifteen minutes to order?  How do you drive the speed limit in the car pool lane??  How have you not realized you are in the MIDDLE of the grocery isle (or do you recognize there are other people in the world)???  Small, petty, but these are real.  I get physical pain when these things happen.  These small circumstances build on each other.  Do you ever see these?  What insignificant areas peeve you off?

My sister and I were talking about the idea of bucket lists last night.  I don’t like them.  She loves them.  And yet, I believe most people have them.  They sound terribly drastic and morbid.  Most bucket lists are not unique, or personal.  They sound as if a bunch of people got in a room and came up with the most generic trips or events to go to.  (Paris, Skydive, Tattoo, New York, Paint a house….  Everyone wants to do those things). Who wants a list of things to do, places to see, obstacles to overcome before you die?  What happens if you die tomorrow?  What if you never do any of it?  Does it stick around like a looming bucket of shame and personal guilt? 

Bucket Lists are, what I believe to be, part of the problem with humans.  We look at other people, other places, other jobs, other vacations, and we judge them as “more than”.  We judge our present circumstances as “less than”.  And we are all depressed, or unhappy.  (It’s easy to write this in New Orleans after watching the Buckeyes dominate Bama…)  But we all do this.  We don’t allow for our present lives to have value.  We put too much value on crazy, once in a life time opportunities.  

What would happen if we valued washing dishes as much as winning the super bowl?  What could happen if people valued other people?  How can acting on the small and insignificant circumstances change our lives?  What if I stopped being in a hurry, and was able to understand why people take up the whole isle in the grocery store?  Would my petty small painful peeve’s go away? 

I think we should throw away our bucket lists and start a new set of lists.  Lets start writing down all the small, medium, and big things we do Every. Single. Day.  Let’s not spend time crossing off big events we “hope” will one day happen, but let’s write down how we got out of bed this morning.  Let us celebrate insignificance along side greatness.  You just took a breath, great job.  Do the small things well and only then will you be able to do the grandiose even better. 

Life is not found in the destination, but on the journey.

Be well

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