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

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

Poor Money

“Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”

I saw this quote the other day and it struck me about the value of things. If you value money at the cost of all else, you lose sight of the things that are truly valuable in life.

As you are working, money is important to live, to eat, to put a roof over your head, but it is not the end/focus of life. Keep your focus on people, and your money will have so much more meaning.

 

Holidays are here :)

I love Christmas. For so many reasons. Presents are nice, but honestly, “gifts” is not one of my love languages.

What I love about Christmas is how everyone seems to be willing to help others during this time of year. People go out of their way to do an act of kindness. To me, that is beautiful.

But why only during this time of year? Amidst the story of Christ’s birth, we need to remember the reason He came, and the life he lived here on earth. A life of generosity, a life of love, a life of compassion.

So maybe this New Years, maybe we should set our New Years Resolution/Revolution to be more like Christ in our actions throughout the year…

 

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

Memorial Day

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and on Saturday, I was kinda bummed cuz I didn’t have plans to do anything and I didn’t know what to do… Most of my best friends were gone, and some other friends were having a Volleyball day, but I couldn’t afford the gas to drive down to visit… So I was bummed to have nothing to do for Memorial Day.

Then I woke up Sunday morning, and saw someone had posted this on Facebook… Continue reading