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

Son Who Stayed Home

No one talks about the son who stayed at home

I sat and talked with a friend the other day. We were talking about life, faith, and stories. As I shared about another friend of mine who has majorly turned his life around, he said “Joel, I’ve grown up my whole life in church, I’ve never partied, I never even touched alcohol until I was 21, I never did drugs, I’m not married, so I’ve never had sex, I’ve never majorly screwed up. I’ve always done exactly what the church has taught me to do. And I feel like that’s not good enough. Like I don’t have a story to tell.”

He paused for a moment and drew a breath as his eyes moistened. Then, with his voice quivering, continued,

“I hear people talk about all these people who are turning their life around, who used to be really bad, and everyone celebrates them. But here I am, and no one even mentions how well I’ve done at keeping all the things that Jesus commands and the church tells us. I feel like I’m not good enough, that I don’t have a story to tell, that I have nothing to say that is worth listening to.” 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

Music, The Language of Heaven

“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?” ~ Jane Swan

Simple, music is the language of heaven. That’s why, whenever there is an announcement from Heaven, it is always accompanied by “a chorus of angels”. It’s why both Isaiah & John, when having a vision of heaven, see the angels singing as they surround the throne of heaven.

It’s why, thought I don’t know the scripture reference for this, they say that before he fell, Lucifer was the highest position in heaven and his job was music.

If you make music, you have the ability to speak the language of heaven. Use it well.

 

Your Soul is Your Own

“A king may move a man, a father may claim a son, but that man can also move himself, and only then does that man truly begin his own game. Remember that howsoever you are played or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone, even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power. When you stand before God, you cannot say, “But I was told by others to do thus,” or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice. Remember that.” ~ King Baldwin IV, “Kingdom of Heaven”

There is so much good stuff to unpack in this quote, but I’m going to pull out probably the two biggest to talk about. Continue reading

Don't Stop Believing

Openness

The most important aspect of any relationship is being open with each other. Whether it’s dating, friends, family, spouses, anyone. The relationship will only survive if you are open about things with that person. Keeping feelings (good or bad) inside and not sharing them is the quickest way to guarantee that your relationship will fall apart. Continue reading

Thanksgiving2011

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

explorient-03

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 .