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

Celebrations (2 of 5)

Continuing my walk down the past year, and the posts that indicated a time of change in my life, this one was a no brainer for me. This one was from one the biggest shifts in my personal life, and was the beginning of a crazy time of change and a fair bit of turmoil.. Continue reading

A Dam is About to Break

A dam is about to break.

Are you ready?

There is this rushing that is soon to be released, and the question the dam is asking is, “are you ready?” Are we ready for what is coming? Because while what we are getting now is water trickling over the edge of the dam, the dam will soon break, and it will come rushing in like a herd of wild horses that this area has never seen.
Continue reading

The River of Tears That Flows From My Eyes

I never thought this day would come. I had thought about it, prayed about, felt uncertain about it. But I never thought it would actually happen.

But now it has.

I’ve been holding on so tight
Look at these knuckles they’ve gone white
From fighting for who I want to be
I’m just trying to find security

But you say let it go
You say let it go
You say life is waiting for the one’s who lose control
You say You will be everything I need
You say if I lose my life it’s then I’ll find my soul
You say let it go

I have made the decision to step down from Youth Ministry. For how long, I don’t know. Maybe just for a season. Maybe for forever. This has been the hardest decision I’ve ever come to. I know it’s right. I know it’s best. But it’s not easy. It’s not what I want to do. But it’s what I need to do.

After praying about for a few months now (if you remember, I posted about this back in March when it first started to be laid on my heart) and after talking to a few people, I made my decision. This was my choice, but it has been the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make. Upon making my decision on Wednesday, I bawled my eyes out. And again the day after. And the day after that. And every day since.

God, why does this have to be so hard? Why does it hurt so much? I’ve always said that if you call me to something, I would do it, without question. But why did you have to actually test me on that?

I know this will be good. I know it is the best thing for me to do. For myself. For everyone. But those thoughts are only small comforts when I feel like this. Now I begin to wonder “where do I go?” “what do I do now?” How do I leave without leaving a huge void behind?

What now will be the thing that makes my heart leap? What now will be the thing that gives me joy? Where does my dream go from here? This was MY God-sized dream. Now I don’t have that. So what do I do now?

I don’t have answers. I don’t have a nice, neat little bow to put on this to make it a nice little package of thoughts and emotions that has a happy ending. I just have the pain, the heartache, and the river of tears that flows from my eyes.

Bigger things

On Bigger Things and God-sized Adventures

Bigger thingsSorry for missing my post (again) on Tuesday. I was such a wreck Monday I couldn’t write… but no excuses, the point of a discipline is you do it even when you don’t feel like it… But here is today’s post…

This past Tuesday was our youth pastor’s last Sunday as the youth pastor. Ryan Dagen and his wife, Janae, are getting ready to head off on this grand adventure that is Eurasia Cafe. If you want to read more about them and what their doing, head over to Ryan’s blog.

But it got me thinking about these adventures. What makes someone want to up and move away from what they love, and go off into something unknown?  The only answer I can think of is God. God calls us into the crazy adventures that are only going to work if He shows up.

But these are the only adventures that are worth living.

We like our adventured like camping (or blowing things up *cough*), but those aren’t the adventures that really get our blood flowing, that make us feel really alive.

These God-sized adventures are the only things that really make us feel alive. I once heard it said “life is God’s novel, let Him write it” and I like that quote. But I also think that he has given us this chapter, this page of His novel for US to write. The question is, when someone begins to read the pages of God’s novel, are they going to read our chapter, our page, and say “well that a pointless chapter” or “wow, those pages added nothing to the story, they were a waste of my time”? Or will they read the pages that we’ve written and say “WOW, that chapter was a major turning point in the story”?

Yes, life is God’s novel, but He has given us this chapter to write. So write it. Make it count. Make it part of His story. Make it worth reading.

Passion

Last night I had dinner with an awesome kid who you could tell was passionate about music.  It was written all over his face, in all of his hand guestures, and body language. When we talked music, there was a fire in his eyes, a light beaming from his face. Even as he talked about the hard parts of being a musician, you could tell that he loved it, loved the challenge. He loves music, and playing music is what makes him come alive! It is impossible to miss.

It got me thinking. What about me? What makes my eyes light up? What makes me beam? What, despite the struggles, do I love doing? Not what do I say makes me passionate, but what actually makes me passionate? (these can be two very different things)

I once heard it said “Don’t ask yourself ‘what does the world need?’, ask yourself ‘What makes me come alive?’ because what this world needs is people who have come alive” This is so true. If you aren’t living your passion, your life is filled with this feeling of meaninglessness (is that a word? I’m not getting the red underline to say it’s misspelled, so I’m going to say yes). I see all these depressed people around me, and I wonder what is their passion that they aren’t living out?

If you are in the Gap area tonight, or can somehow be in the Gap area tonight, come to Angela’s Cafe at 9pm, the kid who I had dinner with last night is playing there tonight. Come check it out and see his passion for playing!!!

This is the Correlation of Salvation and Love

“This is the correlation of salvation and love
Don’t drop your arms
Don’t drop your arms, I’ll guard your heart
With quiet words I’ll lead you in”
~ “The Unwinding Cable Car” by Anberlin

I have been listening to this song a lot, and the chorus here keeps getting stuck in my head, and I’m sitting here thinking about these lines, and wondering “what is the correlation of salvation and love in our lives?” You see, the word correlation (according to the Oxford-American dictionary) means “a mutual relationship or connection between 2 or more things”. So where does our love meet our salvation? How do those outside of our little church seats see it? Often I don’t think many of us really think about it. One of the things I absolutely love is the youth (Amplify Youth Group) at my church (Gap Community Church) this summer, because I see the correlation of salvation and love in their lives. (Now I get to brag how awesome they are for a minute…) They are going to be doing this thing called “The Servants Journey” and they are going to be doing a bunch of service project things in the community, and it is so cool to see them get fired up for this. We also have a group of kids who go into Lancaster city every week and work with the homeless. When they go, they don’t go and be like “hi, we’re from a church, and a youth group and this and that” they just are doing it anonymously, and to me, that shows that there are no hidden motives beneath them doing this. I am so honored to know kids who are that selfless and willing to serve…

Ok, enough bragging on the awesome kids… So what is our correlation, our meeting place, of our salvation and love? It can be something so simple as taking the time to talk to or hang out with someone. I think that selfless service is what it is all about. When Christ said to us that we should go and serve people in love. This is also I think what James meant when he said that Faith without works is dead. (James 2, like verse 26 or something like that) If we have salvation, but we don’t do anything with it, what good is it? We can love people, and do good things, but they don’t get us salvation, the two MUST meet somewhere. I think to long, the church has sat around and not served the people it is there for. There is a story (and I don’t know how true it is) about a city that was under siege, and those of the church sat in their building while the city was crumbling around them, discussing if the Virgin Mary had blue eyes or not. Even if the story isn’t true, the fact that the church has a reputation that would let people believe that the story might be true is so disgusting to me. I was reading a book for staff meeting at GCC, and there is a quote that goes along so well with this post: “We all seem to pretty contented with ourselves in church and that makes me sick. I think all this contentment makes Jesus nervous.” ~ Robert Coles, Wittenburg Door. When people around us are fighting battles, we should be there, saying to them don’t drop your arms, don’t give up, I’ll help you, I’ll fight along side you… I want us to fight this image that people have of the passive church, and I know it feels like we are going to be fighting an impossible, uphill battle, but nothing worth doing is ever done without a fight of some sort…

“You’re so brilliant
Don’t soon forget
You’re so brilliant
Grace marks your heart”

thoughts?

I’m so sorry…

I want to first apologize to Shannon, it was wrong of me to post on Facebook the things I did, and then I next want to aplogize to the students and everyone else, i never ment to hurt you guys as well… I hope you guys can forgive me…

For those of you who don’t know, i’ll tell you now, today was my last day of Master’s. I am not kicked out, nor did I quit persay, but after a lot of prayer, and discussion with Shannon, Ashley, and Kaytee, I feel that the best thing for me to do is to move on to whatever is next for me…

I’ve posted some song lyrics below that parts I feel really capture my heart and what is going on right now… (i’ve bolded and italicized what I feel really jumps out and captures my heart and mind)

Wrap me in a bolt of lightning
Send me on my way still smiling
Maybe that’s the way I should go,
Straight into the mouth of the unknown
I left the spare key on the table
Never really thought I’d be able to say
I merely visit on the weekends
I lost my whole life and a dear friend”

I’m sorry to you, but i think it’s best that I leave, and that I move on into the unknown…

I’ve said it so many times
I would change my ways
No, nevermind
God knows I’ve tried

I have tried so hard to change things, and said I would, and some things did change.

[Chorus]
Call me a sinner, call me a saint
Tell me it’s over I’ll still love you the same
Call me your favorite, call me the worst
Tell me it’s over I don’t want you to hurt
It’s all that I can say. So, I’ll be on my way”

I still love you guys, and I always will. I have done a lot this year, and hurt a lot of you, and I’m sorry for that, and you should never have had to walk through that…

I finally put it all together,
But nothing really lasts forever
I had to make a choice that was not mine,
I had to say goodbye for the last time
I kept my whole life in suitcase,
Never really stayed in one place
Maybe that’s the way it should be,
You know I live my life like a gypsy”

It was time for me to move on, and while it was my choice, in the end, I believe it was God’s choice as well…

[Pre-Chorus]

[Chorus]

I’ll always keep you inside, you healed my
Heart and my life… And you know I try.

I’ll keep you guys in my heart, and I’m still here if you need me. I love you…

[Chorus]

Please feel free to talk to me if you have any questions or anything you want to say…

p.s. lyrics are from the song “Call Me” by Shinedown…

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…