The End of an Era (or So Long and Thanks for all the Fish)

The past three and a half years have been among the most challenging & rewarding times for me. There were days where as a staff, we would sit around and wonder “why are we doing this?”. I would sit there and think “I can’t go on, I can’t do this anymore.” It was in those moments, that my favorite quote from Lord of the Rings comes to mind (here’s the YouTube version, if you prefer it)

Sam: It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the ending, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr Frodo, I do understand… I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only the didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto something…

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr Frodo… And it’s worth fighting for.

But now that struggle has come to the end, and I find myself again wondering if it was worth it. If the time we spent mattered, or if it was all for naught. And again I find myself finding comfort and solace in the words of Samwise Gamgee. Continue reading

A Thanksgiving Worth Celebrating

Well, today is Thanksgiving Day. So I guess I’ll be like everyone else and say the things I am thankful for…

First, is my family. Mom, dad, sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma… They have been the ones who have shaped me into who I am today with their love, support, and strength through all my crazy idea’s, plans and escapades… and stood by me through it all.

Next I’d like to thank my “extended” family. Not like cousin family, but those people who are like family to me (ie my adopted parents, brothers, sisters, etc). Glenn, Luli, & Jordan Stoltzfus; Rodney & Stephanie Smoker; Cody & Cameron Hall; Ryan Dagen; Tyler Stoltzfus; My “little bro”, Brandon; Josh Stippich; Gordon Heinrich; Jonathan Masteller; Mahlon Beiler & so many more…  Continue reading

Recovering

Lately I’m not who I’m supposed to be
Thoughts and words are acting differently
Where do you even begin when you’re too lost to see
the beginning or end?

Have you ever felt like you weren’t where you were supposed to be in life? Ever felt like your not who you think or feel like you should be? And on one hand, you don’t like it, but on the other, you don’t want to forget or “cure” it

I don’t want a cure to leave behind this part of me
I hide on a stage
Inside a dream

Do you ever find yourself hiding, sometimes right in plain sight, but not really as honest or authentic as people think? I know I do. I find myself thinking all the time “if only you knew what was going on inside my head, you wouldn’t love me so much, or at least have a lot less respect for me…”
Continue reading

Peace and Serenity

So, for those of you who don’t know, my sister got married on Saturday. It was a beautiful ceremony, and yes, I did manage to hold it together  (I did tear up a few times, but I didn’t cry).

But with the wedding comes the chaos of the getting ready, the (what felt like) 5,000,000 people, and the tons of “congratulations” (like I had something to do with getting her hitched, lol.) Then after the wedding, we have all the party and the family and friends who come to the house to change and gather their stuff and all that.

It’s a lot of fun, but for an introvert like me, it’s maddening, draining, and overwhelming.

I usually deal well with being in situations like that, but this was probably one of the most draining experiences of my life. It got me thinking, why was this so draining on me?

Then it hit me.

From the time I got home on Thursday night until the time I left on Saturday night to go back to Gap, I didn’t have time to myself to pray or read my bible.

No peace.

No serenity.

No time for God.

I know. It’s really disturbing to me that my time was pushed away so easily. That time to ourselves is so important. We need to take time to relax, de-stress, and chill with God. Those are the most important times in our day. They are the times that give us energy and the power to keep on going on.

Never forget to spend time with yourself. To come back to earth, reflect and gain perspective .

Living A Meaningful Life

Why Write A Better Story?

This is part 3 of 3 in a series about your life.

Check out Part 1 HERE

Check out Part 2 HERE

———————————————————————

I’m finally going to answer the question I probably should have answered first. Why write a better story for your life? If you are unhappy with your life, you already have a reason. But what if you are content with your life? Do you still need to write a better story? That depends on 3 things. 1) Is your story the best it can be? 2) Is your story part of God’s Story? 3) Are you sharing your story with other people?

If you answered “NO” to either one of those questions, then I would challenge you to look at the story of your life, and to write a better one…

If your story is not the best it can be, then I would wonder what is your story right now? Is it sitting on the couch, watching TV, letting life go by you? Think about a movie. You don’t want to watch a movie about a guy who wakes up, goes to a job, comes home, watches TV, goes to bed, and repeats. It’s boring. It’s meaningless. Make your story better, bigger, make it count for something. And this leads me to number 2.

Does your life ever feel meaningless? Do you feel like, that while you do awesome things, and in that sense your life is amazing because you hike, or cliff jump, or do other things like that, it has no purpose? No meaning? Has it ever felt meaningful? Think back to the moments when it felt like it had meaning. I would bet those were the moments when you did something that was larger than yourself. It was those moments when you realized that your story was not about you, but rather it was a part of a larger story. Part of God’s story.

I believe that both elements are necessary to a meaningful life. If you do awesome things, that makes your life fun, but have no purpose behind it, then you won’t (or shouldn’t) be satisfied with it. If you do boring things/things you don’t enjoy, even if you do it for your church or something like that, then you aren’t really doing it for God, and your life is not the best, nor really part of God’s story. Don’t get me wrong, the fun, crazy, things like cliff jumping, or swimming in a river with your clothes on, or hiking, or biking across the country don’t HAVE to be part of something larger, they can be “practice adventures”. But we must also have adventures that are part of God’s story.

What about other people? Are you inviting them into your story? In A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, Donald Miller tells about a family who thought that New Years Day was the most boring day of the year, and so they decided to hold a parade in their neighborhood. But they realized, that nobody really likes to watch a parade, it’s actually pretty boring. But it’s a lot of fun to be IN a parade. So they made a rule that you cannot watch, you have to participate. This parade has grown to thousands (i think) now, and if Donald Miller said that if you look at the pictures, you don’t see one person sitting on the side…

How about you? do you have an exciting life? Is it part of God’s story? Are you inviting others into it? Write a better story.

Agree? Disagree? Other thoughts? Leave them below in the comments!

That’s What Friends Are For

By Dionne Warwick

“And I never thought I’d feel this way
And as far as I’m concerned
I’m glad I got the chance to say
That I do believe I love you

And if I should ever go away
Well, then close your eyes and try to feel
The way we do today
And then if you can remember

Keep smilin’, keep shinin’
Knowin’ you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

Well, you came and opened me
And now there’s so much more I see
And so by the way I thank you

Whoa, and then for the times when we’re apart
Well, then close your eyes and know
These words are comin’ from my heart
And then if you can remember, oh

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
In good times, in bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
Oh, that’s what friends are for

Whoa… oh… oh… keep smilin’, keep shinin’
Knowin’ you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

Keep smilin’, keep shinin’
Knowin’ you can always count on me, oh, for sure
‘Cause I tell you that’s what friends are for
For good times and for bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for (That’s what friends are for)

On me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
Keep smilin’, keep shinin’.”

I am working on a video for my church, and this is the song that was requested for me to use in it, and as I am listening to it over and over again, I couldn’t help but to be thankful for all of my friends that God has put into my life. My UMC family: Shannon & Ashley, Kaytee, Steve, Jonathan, Bekah, Teresa, Josh; my GMC family: Dan, Jenn, John, Paul, Robbie, Charity, Leah P, Amber, Erica, Sara, Leah J, Stacey, Angie, Amberlyn, Jenni P, Jessica; my friends here in Gap: CJ, Tyler, Jordan, Sticky, Cody & Stephanie, Glenn & Luli, Jonathan, Colby, Burnie, David, Chris, Erin, Susan, Rodney & Stephanie, Merrill, Buck, Jody & Rob, Austin, Dave, Caleb, Trevor, Dylan Ryan, Jeff, Scott, and so many more. I’m thankful for my family: mom, dad, sister, adopeted family: Josh, Beth, Kristin. My camp friends: Patrick, Cynki, James, Harry, Derick, Boss Lady; My friends from K-town: Mike, Sam, Scott, Tay, Joe, Ricky, Daniel, Alex, Henry, Sam, Sean, Dennis, Danny, Nate, Stefan, and a lot more. God, I could go on for ages and pages (yes, i did write ages and pages on purpose) about all of the friends I have had and the many ways they have encouraged me. I love you so much, and I don’t know where I would be today without you guys. I pray for you all constantly, and I love you so much. In the words of the song above: “I’m glad I got the chance to say that I do believe I love you, keep smilin’, keep shinin’, knowin’ you can always count on me, for sure, that’s what friends are for. For good times and bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more, that’s what friends are for.” I love you, you have helped me through so much, and many of you don’t even know or realize it. I will be your friend forever, if you ever need anything…