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Sofa

This has been an interesting summer for me. I finally broke my blogging streak of at least one-per-month. Actually, I think it’s good. I can’t count how much time I have spent trying to find something to say just so I can look back and read it again to myself later.

This summer has been a big step back for me. I haven’t done much reading. I haven’t done much music. I haven’t done much of anything.

You would think that discovering things to do over the course of 21 years would somehow provide me a giant list of things to do and activities that bring me joy. As a child I remember thinking that when I was older I would have everything together and I would know exactly what to do at all times of the day.

So… here I sit on my sofa an hour or so past midnight, listening to music, and feeling completely content.

I don’t have a list of things that bring me joy.

I don’t have activities that put a smile on my face.

I’m not a putt putt champion, or a race car driver, or some sort of a genius in any aspect of my life.

What I do have, is peace.

I can’t remember the last time I was bored. There’s always something to do, and it is good. At the start of the bible, Genesis for those who aren’t familiar, God created all these amazing things. Sky, earth, stars, sun, moon, water, plants, animals, day, night, (not exactly in that order) and at the end of all this there is a simple phrase that was repeated. “God saw that it was good.”

 

This is where I am now. I have prayed for years to try and see how God does. I wanted so badly to understand “the big picture”, but I think maybe the big picture is even more simple than I could have imagined. God didn’t create the world, look down on all of creation and say to himself, “Well, that was fun. What next?”

No.

God knows that it is Good.

Sitting on my couch, I see things around me and they are good. I think about my life, mistakes I’ve made, phone calls I should have made, experiences that I would do again in a heartbeat, laughs, games, failures, family and friends…. all of them were good and God made it.

How did He know that all those years ago, when the earth was new, that one day an average boy with an above average imagination could look at the thousands of years before him, and then observe the 21 years that he has been able to see, and know that every step has been good?

There has been tragedy, there has been sadness. Don’t get me wrong, these are terrible things, but hundreds of years from how I can still imagine someone simply sitting down and enjoying life right where they are.

Right now, I’m happy. Maybe I’m not who I thought I would be back when I was 12, but maybe who I am is even better.

God, I’m a screw up, I’m a failure, and I love it.

I’m learning so much from the simplest of things. I’ll keep getting better with your help and I’ll one day be better than I ever imagined.

Amen

Oh Wicked Irony

Hey there kids. I am sitting here, once again, in front of my laptop eating jellybeans and listening to “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”

I opened this today. It’s almost gone and I feel like I could stay awake all night. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway I am currently occupying a house that belongs to a member of my family. This house used to belong to my best friend and his family and I was not allowed inside because they were strangers. Now I’m literally living here. Huh… strange.

 

I just got back from movie night at my house and the movie was about a guy being an idiot and learning a valuable lesson. The movie ended with the only song in the world that reminds me of a time I was an idiot and learned a valuable lesson. Someone knows me way too well.

 

After months of not being able to start anything I am not only beginning to organize the kids I work with into what I like to refer to as “a family,” but I also started writing again. I still can’t finish my songs, but at least I’m back to being musical. Nothing like a nice break to come back strong, right Michael Jordan? (hint–no. not really)

 

I went to a high school open house tonight. It was like stepping into the past and having the opportunity to be who I am now in the environment that I used to be in.

Where do I begin… If only I knew then what I know now. I’m sure I would love nothing more than to sit down and have a chat with myself from a few years back.

We’d discuss things like how to act “cool”. This would be a short conversation because past me doesn’t know much about the subject and present time me is pretty clueless also.

I used to go to school dances in my cargo-pants with pennies filling every pocket because I was convinced that girls would hear the jingle sound and come running. Yeah, like pennies are the dog-wistle for women.

At this point I would probably just smack myself in the head.

When I used to do the dishes, I would do a bad job on purpose because I thought that if I was really bad at it my mom wouldn’t want to me to it anymore. Because clearly, practice doesn’t make perfect.

Smack in the head.

There was one point where, on judgement day, I probably would have handed God my resume full of activities I did in my church. Oh look at me, I vacuumed the floor two Sundays ago! I totally qualify for heaven.

Smack in the head.

I used to think that I wanted to be the kid who sits in the corner of the room and keeps his distance from others because it is “dark and mysterious.” Turns out that’s a good strategy for never meeting anyone ever.

Smack in the head.

 

I’m still learning a lot. Most of what I learn consists of how stupid I used to be.

 

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to google what broken toes feel like and then I will limp upstairs to wash poison ivy off of my feet.

God bless you guys and I hope you’re having a great night.

2000

So my blog just hit 2,000 views. And my first thought was, and I quote…

“Thanks mom!”

I have a concerned family that likes to check up on me. How cool is that? My family wants me around. They want to hear from me, see how my life is going, and when I go home they want to spend time with me.

I am so freakin blessed. God has given me probably the most baller family on earth. That might not be true, but let’s face it, without this specific set of genes I would not be as pretty as I am.

The guys God has put in my life are the same way. Granted their genetic pattern in no way changes how good I look, but they do make a difference to me. I love these guys with everything I’ve got and I know they’ll have my back no matter what. So tonight we all got back together and we agreed to give everybody two minutes to talk about what’s going on in their lives.

I ran into the same problem I’ve been having with this blog. I have so much to say but it all wraps up into, “God is awesome.”

Well, that and, “thanks mom.” Just because my mom is a nice lady.

My life, in no way, has been normal by any standards. There’s a lot of happiness that I am totally thankful for and there’s a fair amount of sadness that I’m still thankful for. God has been putting things in my life that are helping me become the man I’m meant to be, so really from that point of view everything is wonderful. It might suck getting to where I need to be but if that’s God’s plan then I’m willing to take it on with a smile.

But the guys were all telling stories about their lives. Some were prayer requests and others were praises for happy times. Then it was my turn.

I just looked at them and the first thing I said was, “Hi.”

That’s all. A simple hello. There’s a huge list of things running through my head about what I could tell these guys. Maybe it was something about how I am in a good place with my faith. Perhaps it could be something about what God is teaching me through my relationships with others. Maybe it could have even been the fact that breakfast was really stinkin good today. But at that moment I knew something, and the worst part was that it’s almost impossible to express. It was the simple truth that…

I am fine.

Everything is good. Everything is in God’s hands and I like it that way. He’s put me on a boat that is rocking and rolling and I am loving every minute of it. If this were a roller coaster I would not be a nervous person who is muttering to themselves over and over, “I’m going to die. I’m going to die. We’re not gonna make it…”

I am fine.

I want these guys to pray for me, but more than that, I want to hear their stories.

I want to hear your stories.

Right now my counter on the side says 2000 views for this silly little online blog, and it’s still not done being written.

What about you? My stories are right here and I’ve got more that I would love to share with you if you come talk to me, but I would also love to hear your stories and we can see together just how God is working in your life.

2000 is just a number. It means almost nothing. I hope when I die nobody talks about how many hits a blog got. I want them to hear stories of my life, and most of them should be hilarious.

As always, I could use some prayers. I’ll send some your way too.

God bless.

I would like to tell you a story. It is a true story where I thought I was being a good person and it turns out that I was horribly mistaken. Looking back I think it’s slightly hilarious, so I’m good with it now.

A few years back, when I was still in high school, I would visit my grandma’s house on a fairly regular basis. My family was really close and I would head over to mow the lawn, or to play with the dog, or even to just say hi. It was great.

One day after mowing the lawn my grandma calls me into her kitchen. She’s sitting in her favorite chair with a newspaper flyer in front of her.

“What do you think?” she says. “I want to get a new TV for the basement, but I can’t decide if I want the 42 inch or the 46.”
I took a look at the TV’s and I told her what I thought.

“The price difference between the two is pretty big, and honestly the 42 isn’t much different from the 46 so I don’t think anyone would be able to notice a difference one way or the other.”

A month or so goes by and my grandma tells me that I need to go to HH Gregg to pick up her new TV. And of course I will help out. I helped pick it, I helped think through the problem, I can help bring it home.

“Alright grandma. That’s not a problem. What name did you put it under?”

She told me and I headed off for the store. She asked me to bring someone along because it might be heavy. I wasn’t too worried, but it’s better to do what she says just so nobody is worried, plus I get to have company in the car.

I arrive at the store, head to the pick-up bay and claim the order. I then see two workers wheel out our box that has a little piece of paper with her name on it. I will tell you right now, it was not the 42 inch screen. They made a few recommendations on how I was supposed to fit it in the car. I’m busy laughing a little at what my grandma has done, but we get it loaded and we head back to her house. When we get there I walk into the kitchen and have a little chat with my grandma. It went something like this:

“Grandma, remember how I told you to get the 42 inch TV?”

“Oh,” she says, “that’s not what you said. I remember. You told me that nobody would notice the difference on TV’s that similar in size. I want them to notice.”
“Grandma,” I replied, “You got a 65 inch widescreen TV. They could see this thing from space!”

And do you know what that sweet lady said to me?

“I KNOW! Isn’t it great!?!?!?”

Ladies, gentlemen, and household animals that have figured out how to use the internet… be careful what you say. You may say it with the best intentions, but others may interpret your words differently than what you meant.

I hope that made you laugh as much as I did.

God bless you.

Mud

I worked with the kindergarteners today. Cute little kids they are. So full of life and joy and tendencies for getting distracted. Well essentially my teaching partner was sick, so I had some extra kids to watch today. While making their name-tags, one little girl came up to me and said, “I don’t know where to put this!” I assured her that it goes on her shirt, but she refused saying, “This is my nice shirt and I don’t want to get it dirty.”

I couldn’t help but smile.

I’m trying to find a nice way to say this, but the next thing I was going to say was… I was a dirty child.

I remember coming home and my mom would be upset because my freshly washed pants were going to be freshly washed the next day too. I would dig, crawl, jump, fall, skip, slide, and pretty much any other verb you can think of that ends up with pants and shirts covered in mud. Maybe this is where I developed the idea of getting clothes that were made for abuse.

This weekend I did something totally out of character for me. I went shopping.

Most of the time I take hand-me-downs or Goodwill stuff (which is essentially hand-me-downs from a stranger) but this time was different. My dad took me to find nice, respectable clothes.

As I looked in the mirror in a stiff pressed shirt, pants that weren’t even a little bit baggy and had whatever the heck pleats are, and a jacket with those little leather elbow pads that old professors wear… I was a bit out of my element.

The weirdest part for me was looking at the reflection of myself while my dad said something like, “how does it look on you?” or “do you like how that one fits?”

And the only response I could think of was, “compared to WHAT!?!? All I ever wear is jeans and V-neck t-shirts!” But I kept that to myself and told him it looked good.

I’m going to be a teacher, and I knew I needed those clothes, which is why I asked for them, but now these clothes are hanging in my closet and all I can think about is how not to get them dirty. My personality and the survival of those clothes are not going to mix well at all.

Now is the part of the blog where I turn that story into a metaphor for something.

Think about this. We are human. We sin. It’s a terrible sequence of events, but we all find ourselves in times of doubt, struggle, and pain sooner or later.

Here’s the cool part. God has forgiven us. We just need to ask for his forgiveness.

Well boys, girls, and animals that figured out how to use the internet… What then?

We are forgiven and our stains are washed away. And now I can even picture my soul hanging up in my closet while I think about all the ways to avoid getting it dirty again. The most obvious would be to not sin, but like I said, my personality and sinful nature is pretty much a guarantee that I’m going to need some forgiveness again real soon.

Right now, I’m feeling clean. I feel good. I feel pretty dang happy, but there’s always that worry about getting dirty again.

Imagine this. God is like a laundry machine that never breaks down. All you need to do is give up your sin. You need to be able to tear away all the guilt and pain that you have covered yourself with and give it all to God. He’ll take care of the rest.

In no time at all, everything is back to being good again. And maybe this time you’ll pay attention to those mud puddles.

Well that’s about all I’ve got for today. Happy February everybody.

God Bless

Orion

This will probably be pretty short. I know how I have a tendency to ramble.

I thought about this just a few hours ago, and I felt like I needed to say something.

So this one is for my mom.

Way back when, years ago, when I was just knee hight to a grasshopper… there was a glorious activity called camping. Now, I loved camping and I had a blast getting dirty and building fires and staring up at the sky late at night while the last burning ember of the campfire dies. There was always something about it that felt like home. I remember the scary stories, games that made everyone laugh, and how my mom would always teach us about animals and the stars.

It’s amazing how much is out there when we just look up.

Growing up in the suburbs, the stars were only visible every once in awhile, but it was always nice to see them. It was the country where they were the most brilliant. It was so cool finding a nice patch of grass to just lay down and see what was up there.

And then we all grow up and forget to look at the sky like we used to, but today… I looked up.

The first thing I saw were those bright stars looking back at me and I knew from the moment I lifted my chin that those three stars were part of “Orion” and it was just as I remembered it. It’s been a long time since I just looked at the stars, and probably a good amount of time has passed since my last lesson on the constellations. It was one of those things that just stuck with me though. Something that reminded me of good times I’d had.

There’s always a good feeling when something comes back home. It could be a memory, or a journey that took you far away. In my case, it was the stars. I can remember learning about them as a kid and being tucked into bed hearing stories from the bible. Maybe that’s why I’m writing my own little stories here now. The stories stuck with me. But here’s my big connection of the night.

I try to read my bible every day, but some days I fail. When I do there are times when I learn a lot and times where I feel more like I’m fulfilling an obligation.

If these stories are the same ones I heard as a child, then every time I open the book or kneel down and pray should feel like I’m coming home.

That’s my challenge to myself. Pray from the heart, because the heart always knows it’s way back home.

Come find me and talk to me. I’d love to hear your stories.

God Bless.

Slowly Crashing

There’s a picture in my mind right now. It’s amazing and terrifying all at the same time.

If there were a museum, all polished with black decoration, and there were rectangular pedestals all with different scenes of time… that’s where I am right now.

Like I am being forced to re-live moments from my past, but every moment is shattering. Happy moments, sad moments, moments where I eat my breakfast, build a sandcastle, or even when I tie my shoes. Everything. If each point in time represents a different story, if all of those were made of glass, it is like they are all twisted, spiraling, and being broken, but at the same time they are frozen in time. The light bends as it crosses through each image, but the images remain in the same state. It almost seems like my memories were once part of a lightbulb, and I have caught them right when the glass burst. I am waiting for all the pieces to hit the floor, but each scene continues to move in all of the broken pieces of glass.

Replaying my past

Stuck in time when things should be breaking, but somehow they stay together.

It’s odd.

I think sometimes we only go to God in prayer when we have something we need. Like we are looking at the broken stories of our lives, and we want God to fix everything, even the things that are more beautiful now that they are broken. Sometimes we even go to God in prayer because we know it’s time to pray.

1 o’clock on fridays

Church

Worship services

Discipleship-Time

Bible Study

But when is the last time we actually wanted to pray? I think that’s where I am now. I don’t want to ask for anything, even though I could spend hours listing off all of the things I want or the things I think I need. I could point at every broken memory and ask for something, but my life is totally fine.

I just wanted to say I’m sorry. That’s my prayer right now.

I heard something sad the other day. Maybe some of you won’t care, but it almost broke my heart. I was sitting with my sister and a few of her friends at dinner and our conversation was all over the place, but at one point it fell upon religion. Her friend said,

“I thought only Catholic Priests could talk to God.”

The fact that I am Catholic doesn’t change anything. She honestly thought that only specific people were deemed worthy of God actually speaking to them. Like God thought that talking to anybody else was a waste of time.

She was alone in the universe. To her, she might have friends, but nobody cared about her eternal life.

I barely had time to tell her that she was wrong and that God wanted to talk to her before others at the dinner table pushed the conversation elsewhere.

In my world, things might seem like they are falling apart. Christianity isn’t about showing everyone how broken you are so that you can tell them God loves us enough to pick up all of our shattered pieces. Christianity is about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, true God and true man.

It’s a relationship that should never be pushed aside.

God wants to hear from you. I don’t know exactly how many people think the same way this girl did, but if it is even one person, it is one too many. God wants to hear from you. He wants to meet you in prayer all the time.

When the world is slowly crashing, it’s not like we give God a call to try and fix everything. Do we only pray when we need something? What kind of people does that make us? Do you have friends that only talk to you when they want you to do something for them? We want to help them, but at the same time we want to see them at times when they aren’t asking for favors. And when we do that to God, we are just like those friends that only come around every once-in-awhile.

It’s not just priests, pastors, and church officials that God wants to talk to. It’s you, and not just the part of you that is crying out for help. God wants to hear from all of you.

That’s my prayer. That’s my life. God take it and make it awesome. Come with me on my everyday ordinary walk to find more of You. Be with me when I tie my shoes or eat my breakfast. Be with me when I sing with joy and when I play with puppies. Be with me when I have the most ordinary day ever. As long as You, Lord, are by my side, it is another one of the best days of my life.