Thoughts on Baltimore (and other issues)

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the riots in Baltimore. You’ve heard about how people have taken to the streets to destroy, loot, and hurt. You’ve probably read the stories about the 15 officers (last I saw) who were hurt by the rioters. But what do we do about it? We can sit here, behind the comfort of our homes, our keyboards, our tv screens, and criticize, call them criminals, and tell them they should have done it another way.

And we wouldn’t be wrong.

But it’s not their fault.

If you are looking for someone to blame, look in the mirror. Continue reading

End of an Era

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

Robin Williams

The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”

From the first moment I found out about the passing of Robin Williams, this line has been stuck in my head. Over and over and over it plays.

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” Continue reading

When you give hope to others, you find hope for yourself.

closeup-tear

This was written over the course of the past few days. I would just jot down my disjointed thoughts, and then I tried to piece them together in a way that would make sense, without losing the overall feel of what I was trying to say, and I didn’t really expand or elaborate on any of my thoughts, so please keep that in mind as you read. If you would like me to elaborate, leaves comment with what you’d like me to elaborate on, and I will.

The phone rings. I take a deep breath, and pick up the phone and smile as I say “Hello, this is Joel. How can I serve you today?”

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Working is the hardest thing. I find myself at the front desk a lot these days. A place I need to be cheery, a place I need to smile, answer questions, and give hope. Hope I don’t feel. But behind the perfectly plastered smile on my face, my mind swirls with questions. Why? How? Somehow reaching out for understanding that doesn’t seem to come.

Then I read what others say. What the news says. The picture they paint. And I don’t see it. Instead I see someone broken, hurting, and in need of redemption. I don’t feel what society tells me to feel. Instead of anger, hate, rage, disgust, I feel sad, heartbroken, like someone died. And in a way, someone has.

In a way, a lot of people have.

So many people will never be the same. So many lives have had something ripped away from them. Peace, security, trust.

Trust.

And when trust is betrayed, we get angry. But when people are hurt, anger will never heal. Healing will only come when we replace anger with love. Redemption can only come from love. So many people are hurting right now. Spreading anger isn’t going to bring a single one of those people healing. We need to instead let our words be of love and support for everyone. And this love needs to come double from those of us who call ourselves the church. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:34-35

Maybe, if we can inject love into the situation, we can see healing come to each of people involved in and surrounding the situation. Maybe we can stop the cycle. Maybe, just maybe, we can actually change people.

——————————————————–

As my mind still swirls, as I find it hard to focus, I find myself asking questions. The worst kind of questions: questions that really have no answer. Questions that can’t be explained. And then the phone starts to ring. Someone comes in needing hope. And so I take all those swirling, twirling, questions and push them down, plaster a smile on my face that I don’t really feel, and answer the phone. And I give hope. Because when you give hope to others, you find hope for yourself.

About The Journey - Version 2

Laying it all on the line

I’ve come to realize that I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like asking for things in general.

I’m independent like that.

So this Kickstarter Fundraiser has been a huge thing for me.

I guess I should give a little background for you.

If you’ve followed my blog  for a while, you’ll know that 3 of my best friends took a 3 month journey across the country, calling it “Further Along The Road“. When they traveled, they took an iPhone 4S and a GoPro and filmed their journey. Well, then they came back, and we began watching clips. It’s taken a long time, but we’ve finally finished watching clips. And then we ran into a problem. Continue reading

Bingo

Graduation Bingo

Well, it’s graduation season.

That means we get together, listen to cliché words, phrases, and quotes, all for the sake of something that, let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t have finished if your parents hadn’t pushed  you.

I love celebrating accomplishments, but I HATE cliché stuff… I hated my own graduation cuz of all the clichés, but I went to a graduation last night because my “little brother” was graduating… As I was live tweeting Pequea Valley’s Graduation last night, I said this: Continue reading

25 Years of Wisdom…

Well, today is my birthday. The big 25. A quarter of a century…

Now that I’ve been alive for 25 years, I guess I’ve learned a bit of wisdom I’d like to pass on…

If I could go back in time and tell myself something, I’d probably tell myself like to learn to like exercising and being active while young… But other than that, probably nothing else.

Why? Continue reading

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The Greatest Love

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends … 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” ~ John 15:13, 15

So it’s Easter morning, and I’m sitting here trying to find something to say that isn’t cliche, but is still powerful and relevant to the celebration of today.

Then it hit me. But I want to look a this backwards, verse 15, then 13.

Jesus was our Lord, but also our friend. He says that we are no longer His servants, because HE HAS MADE KNOWN TO US EVERYTHING HE LEARNED FROM GOD!!! When we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, He makes God’s knowledge and wisdom available to us!

So with that understanding, that we are His friend, then now we see the greatest love that we could ever know: He gave up his life for us. He died for you. For me.

To save my life.

To save yours.

But the story doesn’t end there. It doesn’t end with his death.

It ends with his coming back to life. You see, Death could only be defeated if Death lost. If Jesus had stayed dead, Death would have won.

But oh the bliss of this glorious thought: that He didn’t stay dead! Instead he overcame death and by His resurrection, we have been washed clean and whole!

We don’t deserve it, we can’t earn it, we aren’t worthy if it. But that is why they call it GRACE!

So this morning, rest in the peace that passes understanding, knowing that there is no condemnation for you, for your sins, for your past.

Jesus died to take your sin upon himself.

And he rose from the dead to wash it away forever.

Amen.

Lost and Alone

It’s been a bit of an interesting night. I started watching “The Gods Aren’t Angry” by Rob Bell (affiliate link). I was supposed to be writing this blog post, but I was enthralled by the video. When I write, I generally close out all social media, turn off the TV, and put on some music. But tonight, I don’t know why, but I didn’t.

And I thank God I didn’t. Continue reading

It’s the Busiest Time of the Year

This time of year is aways one of my favorites, but it’s also one of the most stressful & busiest times of the year too. I have am busy almost every day and every night between work, and FlyTraffic work.

I’ve also started working out 3-4 days a week, which means that 3-4 days a week, I end up losing 1-2 hours to do other stuff. It’s difficult for me to see the value in working out, when there is so much other stuff I could be doing… But I know being in shape is good, so I have enlisted the help of my best friend to work out with me, which helps keep me accountable and gives me the motivation to work out. It’s amazing to me how quickly I can already see the changes starting to happen.

I’m wishing I had more to write, deeper stuff to write, but I just don’t have time to write like that. If I don’t get enough sleep, I’ll start getting sick… Hopefully I’ll have time soon to write. I’ve been reading Waking The Dead again, this time for me, not to teach. And I have so many thoughts running through my head about it I want to get out at some point…