Monday, January 31, 2011

What i've learned: Three things everyone should know.

I was going to picture my whole day today, but it turned out to be a weird day. So I didn't lol. But i'm excited for this post, so that's good. Ha.

I think and pray about my kids a lot. I know that's weird, since i'm single, in college, and poor, and I won't have kids for years, but I still pray for them. I usually picture my son- not that I have anything against girls, and when I have a girl, I will love her more than anything in the world- but I picture my son, and how he'll have curly brown hair and the biggest smile in the world. I already know his name lol. I know people think that's dumb, because my wife might not like the name and I might change my mind, but no. Haha my son's name is nonnegotiable. So I think about my son, and all the things I want for him, and I pray.
I pray that I will be a good dad, and that me and his mom will have an amazing relationship, and that he will know how stinkin much we love him. I pray that I will be able to provide a stable home for him, and that I will be able to give him everything he needs. I pray that God will guide the way I raise my son, so that he will become a man who loves and fears the Lord.
Really, there are three things that I want my son to know- three things that everyone should know.
1.He is loved: I want my son to know that his mom and dad love him so much, that nothing makes them happier. That no matter what happens in his life, we will always love him. I want him, also, to know that God loves him more than anyone ever could, and he never needs to feel like he is alone.
2. He makes me proud: I am going to tell my son this all the time. I am going to celebrate his every achievement. I am going to brag about him to all my friends. I never want him to doubt whether he is good enough, because even though he doesn't even exist yet, he is already amazing to me. I also want him to know that he makes God proud, just because he is who he is. My child will never feel like he needs to perform for attention or love.
3. He is meant for amazing things: Gosh, God has such big plans for my kid. He's gonna change the world. There are going to be things on this planet that only my son can do, and i'm going to make sure he knows this. That he is so incredibly valuable that without him, the world could never be as great as it is with him. without him, my life would be incomplete. Once again, I know that this is crazy, because my son doesn't even exist, but it's so important that he knows these things.

These three things are things I so strongly believe everyone needs to hear. I think about them when i'm ministering to students, when i'm with my brothers and sisters- when I think about my kids. So if you read this, know that

You are loved

You make God proud

and You were meant for amazing things.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Except the first one was kinda bitter,
and this one is very real.

Something's are going to change. I can just feel it. You know that feeling when you know a storm is coming in a couple hours, and you just stand outside and smell the rain, watch the clouds roll in, and prepare yourself? I can smell the rain now. I'm loving it.

To be honest, I don't really know what i'm talking about, I just know that God is moving in BIG WAY'S. I feel like it has to do with ministry- it's gonna change for the better. I'm SO EXCITED.
And scared. Because if this is just in my head, that would suck. But i don't think it is. I need a change, and i'm confident it'll happen.

Also, tomorrow for my blog i'm going to take pictures of my whole day. hahaha.

What I don't understand: Relationships

I get frustrated with people sometimes. To be honest- ugly honest- sometimes I don't think people are worth it. I mean, when you invest in people- whether it be an opposite- sex relationship, a student- mentor relationship, or (in the case i'm currently frustrated with) just a friendship- you hope for something back. I've already talked about this, and how we shouldn't want anything back, but the fact is sometimes we just.... do.
Usually I get frustrated because i'm a very person oriented guy, and when I really put myself into a relationship and don't get relationship in return, I get hurt pretty easy. Now, mostly i'm just tired right now, so i'm just overly emotional, but sometimes when I feel forgotten or mistreated I just wanna throw my hands up in the air and say, "Forget you!" I mean, really, that's all I have right now. I'm tired of it. And i'm not angry or anything, just tired of it.

I don't get why it's so hard for people to have healthy relationships.... probably because we are broken and selfish. I know I am. I also realize that people are busy, they have lives, and i'm not the most important part of them hahaha. Still..... I like quality time with people. When I don't get it, it bugs me.

So right now i'm throwing my hands in the air.
"Forget you!"
I know its not mature, or very godly, but at least this way I won't get disappointed, right?
I'm half kidding, don't worry.

Also, I haven't talked about this before, but when I had that prayer night at church, I felt like God was telling me that He has new ministry opportunities coming up that I have to take. He thinks I need a change. I don't know whether or not this opportunity will be in Fusion or Oakhills. Sometimes I hope it will, because I love it there. Right now I kinda don't care lol. So if you read this, pray for guidance for me :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What I HAVEN'T learned: Money

Money money money, MONEY

I hate money.
I hate it so much.
I want to punch it in the face.
I want to kill it.
I wish I could tie it to a brick and throw it into a lake.
Or burn it.

Unfortunately, it turns out money IS important. I hate the saying that money makes the world go round, but, it kind of does. Humanity as a whole bases its worth and value off of how much bank people make. If you don't have money, you can't get a house, a car, food, ANYTHING. It's ridiculous, it's unfair-
it's how it will be til Christ comes back.

And this sucks for me, because I don't have alot of money. I work six days of the week and have two jobs, but I also need to pay for my car
and insurance
and my phone bill
and gas
and books
and food

And sometimes it's too much.
And I get scared.
And I start to try to control my resources
and plan it all out
If this money goes HERE, then this can go HERE
SO much stress. I hate it.

And I won't talk about tithing yet, but I just want to say that I have worried about money millions of times, but i'm here right now, and i'm still ok.
I have all the proof in the world to believe that God has my back, no matter what my financial situation. I take comfort in the fact that even when my finances look like a terrible giant, God can overcome them.

There's a song by Sleeping At Last called Heaven Breaks. Some of the lyrics are:

When Heaven meets the Earth,
We will have no use for numbers
to measure who we are or what we're worth.

I'm waiting for that day. I suck at money, it's like a struggle every paycheck. But I know God will make it all work..... someday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun Freakin' Friday!

This is my favorite youtube video. It is the funniest thing ever. The only regret in my life is that i'll never own a dog.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What i've learned: Don't be Job's friends


I love my students. I love that God lets me teach them about Him, guide them, have fun with them, help them through tough times....

I hate when I can't help them.

but it happens. Sometimes what they are going through is deep. Deep and dark, and painful.
And sometimes it's so deep that only God can guide them through it. And sometimes it takes a REALLY STINKIN LONG TIME.
I know, i've gone through that. Pretty sure we all have. Why is it, then, that we forget how it feels? Why do we always feel like we know better than the person who is struggling, like we have the answer? Don't we remember how we felt, like no one could understand, like we had to deal with the pain ourselves?

Why do we always assume it's the hurting person who is being stubborn, and not us?

Here are some things i've learned when dealing with a hurting person.

1. Never say they are hurting because they don't love God enough.
I had this happen to me before- well, i've done this before too. Kinda.
I told someone that the way they were acting was spitting in God's face. And while this may have been true, it wasn't right to tell that to them when they were hurting. God knows what He's doing in these valleys, and I believe that those who are hurting are probably clinging to God more than most of us. Don't tell them they don't have enough faith.

2. Don't just give advice for the sake of giving advice.
Don't you hate when you want to help someone, to make them instantly better, but you don't know what to say? So you start spouting a bunch of B.S. about how "God will use this for the better", and, "you will look back on this problem and see how God was there the WHOLE TIME."
Now, maybe B.S. wasn't the right word, because those previous statements were true. But when someone's whole life is falling apart, they don't want simple answers like that. They want their anger and pain to be aknowledged, not just brushed aside. Which leads me to my third point...

3. Shut up and hold them.
This sounds weird but, heres the thing- people who are grieving HATE when you act like you know more than them. I mean honestly, how can anyone possibly understand another's pain fully? The Bible says "Each heart knows its own bitterness." Proverbs 14:10
So instead of trying to talk through something you can't possibly understand, why not just... hug them? Be there for them? After all, that's what everyone really wants when they're hurting- someone who will just stay with them no matter how hard it gets.
Not words.
Just actions.

The title of this post was don't be Job's friends. These guys kept blaming all of Job's problems on the fact that he wasn't righteous enough. They were trying to be helpful but, well, they ended up looking like idiots.

Don't be those guys. Be compassionate and sensitive.
And not an idiot.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I've realized that there will be times where I am too tired to blog. This is one of them lol. These last two days have just been really, really, WEIRD. Not bad per say, just weird. I am very tired on my insides. Not sad, just tired. Tonight at youth group was great- someday I'll talk about them, but not tonight.

It's just- you ever feel like you pour out a lot into something, and maybe don't get what you poured into back? I know that that is a terrible thing to dwell on, but I feel very.... empty about youth group tonight. Like I gave everything I could, but didn't get anything back.
I'm not complaining, i'm just saying. That creeping loneliness was coming back inside my chest tonight- thankfully not til after youth group- and now i'm just tired.

Sometimes when I feel like that I wish someone would just say,"I love you dude", and give me a big hug. I guess no one knows to do that though.... lol.
Anyway, i'm dead tired, and i'm hoping I feel better tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank a Mentor Day!

Today is national thank your mentor day! AAAAAH!

This makes me happy, because I always feel like there should be more occasions to thank people who have influenced you. But there really aren't that many defining moments in ones life.
So what I usually do is just randomly tell people how much they mean to me.
I'm sure it looks weird to people.
But that's ok now, because I HAVE A REASON TODAY! WOOOOOOOO!

I know I once talked about how I was frustrated with mentors, but today let's look at the positive!

Without Jeramy Wheeler and Nick Gray, I would have quit going to fusion, not come to know Jesus, and never experienced this crazy adventure i'm on.

Without Jeff Wendt, I would never have gotten into leadership at all- I would never have become a student leader, or an Elements leader, or a Fusion leader, or even temporarily an intern. I would never have been able to be a councilor at Kid's Camp, at Jr. High camp, or at Wildwood. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have even considered being a Youth Pastor without him.

Without Jon Sanchez, I would not have been able to sort through all the messy feelings and issues that I have lately. It's crazy that he listens and doesn't condemn me. LOVE IT.

Without Roy Lucier, well, I might not have the confidence I do in ministry. I guess he has no reason to doubt me, but I really appreciate how he believes in my ability to lead. It takes a lot of pressure off, and gives me room to grow.

So, that's a shout out to my top guys.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What i've learned: Let it go

Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You built up hope, but failures all you've known?
Remember all the sadness and frustration,

Today i'm talking about the dark stuff. The bad stuff. The,"this has changed my life forever, and I will NEVER let go of it" or," This person has hurt me so bad, I will NEVER FORGIVE THEM." or, "I just want to impress you, I WON'T STOP TIL I DO."
The stuff that drives you're every action, like a burning in you're mind that you can't put out.
This stuff is dangerous.
I'm going to call it bitterness, but there are tons of other words we can use- addiction, obsession. No matter what, it's not healthy. And, to be honest, these kind of obsessive possessive thoughts are sinful. Yeah- crazy right? But the truth is by obsessing about how angry you are at someone, or how you need someone's approval, or how you can't possibly forgive someone- well, you're basically saying that you don't trust that God will take care of you, and take care of the situation.
Now you say, "But Jonathan, it's not that easy, some things are too hard to get over, some things are too painful to forget, some things are are too terrible to forgive."
You're right it IS hard- I mean, life itself can be pretty tough. But it is so important that we don't let our hurts and problems govern our lives. God has so much in store for us, but if we are living with a spirit of vengeance or hatred or hurt, He isn't capable of doing what He wants in us. By insisting on getting our own vengeance, or holding power over those who have hurt us, we are tying God's hands.
Not a good idea.
In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis says this about sin that we can't stop.
"It begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticising it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticise the mood, nor even enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine."
That scares me. That mood, obsession- it can eat at you until there is nothing left, until God couldn't forgive you if He wanted to, because there is nothing left of you to forgive.
Please guys, we all go through stuff that is hard to let go, that hurts and burns and distorts you're whole world- but we need to learn how to take a deep breath and let go. God intends for us to be free- He does not want us to wrap ourselves up.
I may be a hypocrite in this, I have things that I need to let go of myself, but i'm working on it. I am learning to forgive and love- I am positive this is of the utmost importance.

Remember all the sadness and frustration,
and let it go

let it go

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What i've learned: I need Jesus

Here's the thing.

I'm a mess. I get really angry some times, I make stupid decisions almost daily, I worry about little things, i'm terrible at tithing, I say jerky stuff without thinking- well, I do A LOT without thinking, i'm not the best student, I am at times incredibly selfish, I say "frick" way more than I should....

.... and that's just the beginning.

Yeah, I know- I make myself look pretty great.
Sometimes, when I think about all this stuff in a negative way, I become overwhelmed with self doubt, and whether or not i'm saved, and if I WAS saved, why i'm not a better person by now, and why can't I love God more? Why can't I be perfect?

Then I realize i'm human hahaha. We are incapable of perfection. I'm not just saying this as a cop out, but a simple truth. Humanity itself is messed up. From the very first bite of that apple that Adam and Eve took, humanity was derailed. Ever since then, we have been spinning out of control.

Thank God for Jesus. That's what i'm thinking about today. Thank God that Jesus gave his life to bring humanity back on course. And thank God that I am continually forgiven each and every day. I have become convinced that salvation is a life long experience. That once we enter into a relationship with Christ, he is willing to take as much time as required to mold us into the amazing children of God we have been called to be.
I love the parable of the prodigal son. How, when the son comes home to his father, all covered in pig grime and poop, his dad hugs him. He just hugs him, not worrying about getting all the pig poo all over his nice robe.
That's just like God! If we come to Him, even covered in sin and junk, he will accept us, because He loves us so much.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

This is me bragging: Tonight's killer team night

Tonight My fellow Team Leader's and I hosted an event at North Central for our Team Sonic guys. Not gonna lie, I wasn't sure how it was gonna turn out, because A. It was really hard to plan what with me just being a horrible planner and it being the beginning of the semester. and B. We had a youth group event last night, and it's not always a good idea to plan two things in one weekend.

But it was freakin awesome!!!

It was a fake formal dinner, so everyone (mostly) dressed super nice, and we ate...... Pizza! haha it was great. Then we played a youth group form of Apprentice- Fusion Inc. Apprentice! I'm not going to lie, I was sure this was gonna fail. I didn't think my guys would have the attention span or desire to do this. But they loved it! We did three events-
1. Create a mascot for Team Sonic- this was individual. The two least creative students were fired.
2. Create a sermon series for the youth group. This was a team event. The team that gave the best presentation was safe, the team that didn't do so hot was fired, save one contestant.
3. At this point there were four contestants left. They were divided into two groups, and then each given three team members to work with. They then had to come up with an idea for our next team weekend. Each team gave us a pitch for it, and we then decided which event to do. The three team members on each side then critiqued their leaders. Only one leader on each team could move on, so two were cut.

Finally, each remaining player gave us Team Leaders reasons why they should be the apprentice. Both had amazing speeches, and both were great leaders, but in the end, the winner was....

JUST KIDDING! Can't say students names on here. Regardless, it was so great, and i'm proud of all my guys.

In the end, we gave out the Fusion Apprentice Award, and gave each kid an individual award. It was awesome.

So, that's me bragging. I love my guys so much.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My favorite songs

Iiiiiiiiiiit's FUN FREAKIN FRIDAY! That means that i'm not really talking about anything serious! Yaysauce! Tonight there is a Youth Group Party at my church. From 7-11. That's late guys.
SO, I'm blogging right now. Today is a list of my favorite songs. They are either beautiful, or inspiring, or usually both haha. These are the song I listen to when i'm bummin. Strongly encourage you to look them up.

1.Walls by The Rocket Summer
favorite lyric "I know this is random but just this morning I saw the sun reflecting on the lawn window. I don't know why, but I thought you should know."

2.Relentless by Audrye Sessions
favorite lyric "Now you're better than you think you are, show these people what you were born to do. 'Cuz I believe in you, i'd bet my life on you."

3.I will follow you into the dark by Gavin Mikhail
favorite lyric "you and me have seen everything to see, from Bangkok to Calgary and the soles of your shoes are all worn down, the time for sleep is now. It's nothing to cry about, 'cuz we'll hold each other soon, in the blackest of rooms."

4.Details in the Fabric by Jason Mraz
favorite lyric "If its a broken part replace it, if its a broken arm then brace it, if its a broken heart then face it. And hold your own, know your name, and go your own way."

5.How He Loves by John Mark Mcmillan
favorite lyric "so Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that he loves us."

6. What's a boy to do by Mat Kearney
favorite lyric "it's all quiet for the first time, no voices left to fall I saw a boy at the bottom of the bridge, his car was left there on the top. It's four o'clock in the morning, it didn't have to end like this. There's a white sheet left to cover up what should have been a holy kiss. It's not like those days- it's not like i'm scared of you. What's the son of man, and a boy to do? What's the son of man and a boy to you?

7.Umbrellas by Sleeping at Last
favorite lyric "fences divide, fences divide our land. I would catch bullets with my bare hand, 'cuz you were meant for amazing things"

8.Times by Tenth Avenue North
favorite lyric," My love is over, it's underneath, it's inside, it's in between. These times you doubt me, when you can't feel, these times you question, is this for real?".... well really, the whole song is great.

9.Fix You by Coldpay
favorite lyric,"Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you.

10.Everything by Lifehouse
favorite lyric,"And how could I stand here with You, and not be moved by You? Could You tell me, how could it be any better than this?

11.Iridescent by Linkin Park
favorite lyric,"Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up hope, but failures all you've known? Remember all the sadness and frustration- and let it go, let it go."

12. Bullet by Mat Kearney
favorite lyric,"I would take a bullet for you, I would catch a bullet for you, I would cross any line and swim across the sea. I would take a bullet for you, I would take a bullet for you. I would lose it all and take my fall to show you it's for real."

There are a bunch of other songs that are also great (You Are More by Tenth Avenue North- seriously) but these are my faves. They are great pick-me-ups. So whenever you're feeling down, listen to one of these!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What i've learned: Feeling "used" sucks.

This is the earliest i've written a post. Right now is my "rest time". Haha it's the hour and a half between classes and supper. I feel so relaxed right now. I'm eating oatmeal mixed with peanut butter- it might sound a little weird, but it's so darn good!

Have you ever felt used? Like, sometimes a person will spend time with you, say you are their best friend, say that you're really important to them, and then the next thing you know...

...they just stop talking to you, they stop hanging out with you, they take you off, like you're a shirt, and hang you in the closet til they want to wear you again.
And then you wonder... was it your fault? Are you not cool enough, smart enough, fun enough to want to spend time with? That hurts- when you start to doubt yourself because of someone else. Because they meant alot to you, but you weren't good enough to them.
You were used.
And what you want to happen is for them to realize what they've done to you, to come back to you and apologize, say that you are worth more, they should have NEVER treated you so badly.
That's what you want. That's not what happens.

Or maybe you're the one who tries people on like clothes. You spend a little time with someone, something bad happens, so you throw them onto the floor, and put another shirt on. Maybe you never realized how much this hurts your "friend".
Maybe you try people on, because you were used first.
Maybe you feel terrible, because you are afraid to stay close to people, so you just keep hurting them.

Here's my challenge for you today. For the couple of you who read this, I want you to make sure that every friend or loved one you have knows that you love them, and value them. And I want you to make sure that those who are using you know you love them as well, because the way they treat you should not stifle your ability to love.

But I also want you to know that God really loves you, and will NEVER use you, or make you feel like a nasty old shirt. God is like that one kid who wears the same sweatshirt everyday, because it's so comfortable. So take faith and hope in that.

That's all I got. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What i've learned: Affirmation is incredibly important

The mouth is a powerful thing. The Bible talks about it- mostly in James, but I'm not going to quote it here. It has the power to give life, and the power to bring death.

A quiet kid is made fun of at school. When they get home, their parents tell them that they should try to be more popular, have more friends, fit in. They basically tell their kids they aren't good enough.
A quiet kid is made fun of a school. When they get home, their parents tell them that they
shouldn't listen to their classmates. They are beautiful and perfect, and God loves them to death.
Which kid will be more successful in life?
The tongue has the power of life and death.

Tonight I want to focus on the life part. I didn't really know what this post was gonna be on (so close to talking about youth again, shoot!) But then my cousin texted me some awesome words of encouragement. And I thought about how incredibly impactful positive words can be. When I was a kid, I was super shy. Then, somehow, God called me to be a youth pastor. I thought there was no way this would happen. But then I started spending time with really, really great people. My youth pastor, my youth leaders, and some other people told me things like, "I believe in you," "I am proud of you".... my youth pastor gave all of the seniors in my graduating class the book "Oh the places you'll go" by Dr. Seuss. On the inside of mine he wrote,
Tiffany and I are so proud of you and the young man you've become. God's call is so evident on your life, continue to seek His will and you'll never be disappointed. We love you.
That was a big deal to me. Heck, I still have the book and read it often. All of the encouraging words that people give me are so important, they remind me that God is still working in my life, and that I may occasionally being doing life right.

So what I want to encourage you to do is be the person who says encouraging things. Man, we have the power to take someone's horrible day and put a little hope and love in it, simply by saying a couple of words. Compliment their appearance, or something you noticed them doing, or the way they lead- make sure it's true, of course- but be looking out for things you can say to show others love. It is an amazing way to show the love of Christ. And it could be your words that directs them into an incredible future. If my youth pastor and leaders never said those things to me, I would never have gotten this far. The same could be true for the kid sitting next to you in class, or that awkward guy at work. Just sayin.

Also, if you get a sec... listen to relentless by audrye sessions. It's incredibly life giving.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Random Rant: stuck in the middle of conflict

Serious random question of the day: What do you do when a leader has unknowlingly hurt someone, that person tells you they've been hurt, but they don't want the leader to know? Kinda puts you in a pickle, huh? On one hand, the leader should know so the problem doesn't later affect his ministry, but on the other hand, you need to respect the privacy of the person who told you..... SHOOT!

I hate when leadership problems arise, and you're in the middle of them. There is no easy way to deal with it. i mean, obviously you could just stay out of the problem, but what if the problem just punches you in the face?

maybe a better way to handle them is with honesty. Maybe you can just throw you're hands in the air and say, "Hey, let's not keep this in the dark, everyone makes mistakes, let's talk about it and get to the bottom of everything."

Maybe it's important to deal with the core issue. The person could be having negative feelings on a new leader because they are comparing them to an old one. That's not fair to the new one at all, is it? How do you deal with these feelings? In a ministry, which is not as formal as a business, the person could have had strong bonds with the old leader that are not there in the new leader. That's understandably difficult. But how do you validate the person's loyalty to their former leader without causing disloyalty or conflict with the new one? NO CLUE!

That's my random rant. It wasn't about me this time, so that's nifty.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What i've learned: Importance of relationship in conflict

Today, I went to coffee with one of my students. We went to this place called Quixotic Coffee. Fancy coffee shops scare me like no other, because their menues are so unhelpful. It's like you need to understand secret coffee code to know how to order. Anyway, today I got a plain old mocha- it was super delicious, but still, ordering was the most stressful part of my day, and I had a stinkin dentist appointment! (Another thing that scares me- dentists never have good news)

This post isn't about coffee however. I have no authority in that subject haha. My friend Roy does. He has a blog about it. I don't know how you can possibly care enough about coffee and tea to blog about it, but he does. Impressive.
This post is about what it takes to have authority in someone's life. Ya see, today the student and I talked about some big decisions that they were preparing to make. It seemed like the choices they were making were innocent enough, but I know this student. He tries to make big decisions all the time- he tries to run all the time. So I was super honest with him. I told him that the decision he wanted to make was not a good one at all, that he was just trying to run again, and that it wasn't going to help. He thanked me for my honesty.
I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, i'm just saying that because I knew this student and had a real relationship with him, I was able to look at what he was doing and point out foot holds that were influencing his decisions.
The same thing happened to Jeff and I. If we didn't have some sort of relationship, I would not have respected anything he tried to point out to me in my life. When he was tough with me, I probably would have just left Oakhills, I would have been so pissed. But because I knew his heart, I took what he said to me seriously.
So basically, what i'm saying is is that before you judge someone, or point out flaws in a person, make sure you know them and are respected by them. Make sure what you are saying will be taken with love. Otherwise you are just being a jerk.
That's what i've learned.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Random thoughts......

Right now I am sitting at my mom's house, all alone. Well, actually, everyone is sleeping, but you get the point. To tell you the truth, alone is the last thing I want to be right now. It's been a long, weird weekend. The kind where nothing goes how you thought it would. The exhausting kind. I kinda feel like junk right now.

I will admit that a lot of this boils down to missed expectations- I've found that when people are frustrated or angry, that's usually why- I can't really explain what these expectations are, but I know they are there. Another part of it is that I wish I were close to my dad. I really need to talk to a guy right now, or a hug, or something. I texted some people to see if they could talk right now, but it being so late.... no one answered lol. So it's just me and my blog.

Do you ever get that feeling like you have a watery knot in your stomache, like your crying on the inside? Like you're not sure why, but you just wanna get it out? Yeah, TOTALLY have it right now. It started yesterday, after work, when I went to my house to find out a bunch of family stuff was going on. It kept going today, because I just wanted to spend time with some uplifting people, but I had meetings all day. So, it's steadily developed into this incredible illusion of loneliness that i'm feeling now. I wish I could talk to someone.

I know God is there, but this is me being real, and I kinda wish there was a person to talk to. I know, that's terrible.

My hope is that I will wake up tomorrow feeling better, enjoy my day off (YEAH MLK) and be happy. My fear is is that this is the beginning of another tough semester. I'm determined to not let that be the case. I want to be effective in God's kingdom. Being mopey doesn't do that. But hey, if you're awake, call me up. We can chat hahaha

Also, I finally got the guts to tell the other leaders about me being fired from interning. It was really tough, but I know it was the right thing to do. No more hiding myself :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What I need to work on: My darn walls

Once upon a time, my mom was coming to visit me from North Carolina. I had been incredibly excited for two weeks- I loved when my mom came to visit. When the day came for her to come, I jumped out of bed. It felt like Christmas!

And then the call came.....

She wasn't coming.

And all of that excitement I felt was for nothing.

That was a really big disappointment. My mom had had to stay in North Carolina to take care of her husband. Did I feel unimportant?
A little. Haha this is not a "sob blog", i'm just explaining one instance where what I wanted, what I hoped for, was taken from me. One of many times.
And how did I react to these instances?
I started building walls.
If someone would let me down, or cancel out on me, or not talk to me for a while, I would just... pretend I didn't care. I would, in fact, make sure I cared less about whatever was happening than the other person. I would laugh it off, or said I had other plans anyway, or pretend that I didn't care that the person made me feel unimportant.
Heck, it worked. I was untouchable, unhurtable, invulnerable.
And a little bit lonely.
God has been working on this with me a lot lately. Holding your feelings in, pretending you don't care about your place in other's lives is ridiculous. We are meant to be in community- nice, open, and loving. Not holding our feelings inside so others will pretend I don't care.
I was reminded of this today, when a friend of mine said that tonight wouldn't work for hanging out. It wasn't a big deal, at all- I had plenty of other things to do, but for a split second I shut down. I started thinking things like, "I don't care, I didn't want to hang out with him anyway, he has important things to do." I got super bitter for no reason.
Then I realized that that is LITERALLY the stupidest thing ever! That's not loving, or right! I reevaluated myself, and figured out that I felt like I had been put on my friend's list of unimportant things, and it hurt. Then I realized that it was only in my own head that there WAS a list of unimportant things. I swallowed a humble pill, and let it go.
So that's my story.
Tear down the walls.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why, Chai, why?

This post has nothing to do with anything. It's completely random. One day me and Pastor Roy dropped a student off at the airport. This story is about what happened after that, with a little creative license added in.

Once upon a time, in the magical land of Minnesota, there were two friends- a dashingly handsome, extremely talented young man named..... Roy ( ha, you thought I was gonna say me. But I didn't) and a young, eager, excitable boy named Jon. On their way back to Roy's Incredibly Huge Mansion, Roy decided to show his young apprentice a magical place that very few people new of. "It dwells within the belly of the Mauler of America", Roy said. Jon was terrified- he knew not what kind of place they were going to, but he certaintly did not want to go inside a Mauler- whatever that was.
Roy, however, as brave as always, saddled up his black vintage steed, threw Jon onto the back of the saddle, and galloped quickly across the barrens. Soon a huge, menacing shape rose up through the mist. It was a giant monster, who was constantly eating steeds and spitting them out. Jon screamed with fright, but Roy simply said, "Bring it, Leviathan!"

He charged straight into the monster's mouth- and then all went black.

When Jon woke up, he had no idea where he was. It seemed to be a little shop of some kind, with a kindly old man behind a counter. "I will have the most magical of beans", Roy said, placing money on the counter. Jon realized that the magical place inside the Mauler of the America was simply.... a coffee shop. "WHAT?" He yelled, "We risked our lives for a STUPID COFFEE SHOP?" Roy looked at him, horrified. The old man behind the counter suddenly stuck out a cup to Jon, and said, "Because you have insulted this moste magical of all coffee shops, you must drink this cursed Chai Tea."
Jon laughed. "Cursed? How can tea be cursed?" He took the cup, and took a big gulp. It was the most delicious thing he had ever tasted. "There is nothing wrong with this Chai old Man," he laughed," It is in fact incredibly delicious!" He payed for his drink, and then he and Roy left.
As they exited the rear end of the Mauler, Jon again tried to take a drink of his Chai- only this time, he spilled the tea all over his front! "Why Chai, why!" He wailed. But he still would not believe that his tea was cursed. So he tried again, and again, and again to drink his tea- but every time he would spill. By the time Roy and Jon reached Roy's Mansion,Jon was a sobbing wreck. "Why didn't I listen to the old man, why did I disrespect coffee? Now I will forever long for the taste of my Chai, and I shall never taste it again! Woe is me!"

The end.

Don't disrespect coffee shops that Roy takes you to. Almost none of that story was even close to what happened. In fact, it was incredibly stupid. If you read the whole thing, I am laughing at you. Then again, it was ME who typed it all up.....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

what I love: Wildwood!!

I ALMOST talked about my passion for youth today.... but then I realized I couldn't talk about some of the most amazing students i've met without first talking about Wildwood. So here goes.

Tucked between the corn, Kum N' Goes, and windmills of Iowa is a secret little safe haven. It's a couple acres of horse stables, cabins, a mess hall, an art house, a lake, a water slide, random trails (my mom got lost in them once), and some random dogs. If you sit on the hill leading down to the lake at night, you can see every single star in the sky. It's like God is hovering straight over Wildwood Ranch, smiling down at it.
Yeah, cheesy right? But these are the kinds of feelings that Wildwood stirs in me. There is something beautiful about the place- the best way I can describe it is there are two types of Christian camps- One that talks ABOUT the Holy Spirit, and one that is FULL of the Holy Spirit. Wildwood is saturated with God's blessing. It's thick and powerful there. Which is good, because if it wasn't, it's purpose would be almost impossible.
Wildwood brings at-risk youth from all over Iowa and gives them a week of just being a kid. They work on team building, self-expression, and respect. They break down walls- really, really THICK walls- that the kids have built up.It's challenging and sometimes heart breaking to deal with these kids who only know how to act out of anger and hurt. They punch you, kick you, ignore you, say ridiculous things to you- all because they want to hurt you before you can hurt them. It's extremely sad.
But this is why I love the ranch- because the Spirit lives there. The Spirit is constantly working in the councelor's hearts, helping them love the kid's through the pain, through the hurt- love them like Christ. It is beautiful, and you can't help but be moved.
I have been there four times- twice with my church as a leader, and twice with some friends. Once you've been there once, you can't stay away. And every time i've gone, I have seen students that came with me turn into leader's. It's crazy, the most self-absorbed, quiet student instantly becomes a selfless leader. It's like as soon as they meet these kids who have been through hell, all of their own problems are lost, and they gain an earnest need to just love. And they do it so well! I was constantly impressed by students who just kept proving themselves to be capable of leadership!

I'm going to tell you a story of a Wildwood kid to close- it's sad, but I think it is important to recognize what these kid's go through.
There was a kid at the ranch who was having a really tough week. He kept getting in these ridiculous fights for no reason. No matter how many times that the counselors talked to him, he kept picking fights! Well one night after another fight, he ran away from his group. The counselors followed him, and found him at the basketball court.

He was trying to cut himself with rocks.

The counselors restrained him, and sat him down, and he just started crying and talking about how he had no friends and no one liked him. He said that he use to play basketball at home, and these kids would come up to him and take his ball, and then leave. He didn't have any friends, and he didn't know how to make them. Suddenly the way he was acting toward the other kids made a ton of sense- he wanted to make friends, he just didn't know how.
The rest of the week, the counselors paid extra attention to him. They made sure he knew he was valued, and he transformed into a smiling little boy. It was amazing.
And there are hundreds of stories like that- hundreds of broken kids who get to feel so much love for a week. This camp brings hope to the hopeless. This camp is Jesus in the flesh.

So, I know this is the longest post ever..... tomorrow will be a LOT shorter. It's gonna be Fun Friday, and i'm going to tell a "true" story called, "Why Chai, Why?"
Loook forward to it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What i've learned so far: About myself

When your parents aren't together, a cut is made in your "person".

When it's a messy separation, the cut is bigger.

And the older you get without addressing the cut, the more and more it bleeds.

I have definitely had my fair share of bleeding. My parents were never together, and while they are all great, the way they acted towards each other when I was a kid affects me to this day. My step mom and bio-mom have absolutely despised each other ever since I can remember. If they read this, they might not like it, but here's the thing- they both say they are willing to work it out, and yet they still say crap about each other. Funny how that works,huh?
I remember as a kid feeling extremely guilty no matter where I was. If I was with my mom, I felt like I was making my dad and step mom sad. If I was with my dad, I felt like I was making my mom sad. It was ridiculous. No matter what I constantly had that sense that something was wrong, that something was broken, and that I had to fix it.
I know now that I was just a kid- that nothing I did could fix it, that I shouldn't have had to try to fix it. I shouldn't have had to try to be perfect to be loved, to pretend like I had it all together so I would be liked. I know that having separated parents doesn't seem to correlate to all that, but it does.
My parents tried to make a stable home, but something was always off. Maybe it was just off to me, because the relationship with my bio-mom was so complicated, but it was never right. I was SO insecure because of this lack of belonging anywhere. I was shy to strangers, extremely loud to my friends. I was obnoxious, because if I was loud then no one would know everything going on in the inside.
Jesus saved me though. Many times actually. He continually used people to show me the stability and love that was somehow lost to me. He gave me the courage and belief that I WAS worth something, and that I could be loved and wanted.
This realization changed everything. It still IS changing everything. Because even though I know I am worth SO MUCH, and loved SO MUCH- I still struggle with doubts. Sometimes the feelings of loneliness and insecurity bowl me over like a tidal wave, and i'm left drowning in the wake. I hate these times- it's almost impossible to pull myself out by myself. That's when- that's why mentors matter so much to me. They are there to remind me God loves me, that He has a hope and plan for me.
So,yeah, I need a buttload of affirmation, but that's because right now I need a buttload of reminders that God loves me.
I also need people to just give me time.... give me their time. That would mean more than anything.
I want to end this on a positive note. I was originally gonna talk about my love of da youth, but I didn't. So I will say that my experience of God using adults in my life to communicate His love has led me to do the same- I love being there for students. God has such great plans for every one of them. Each one is unique and amazing in their own way- it's my job to make sure they know that. BAM. That's all I got for now.

Oh wait- I know something else I want. I like blogging because you can say whatever you want and no one can get mad at you.... UGLY POOP LIP...see? Anyway, I want a retreat with an older guy. So he can teach me about God and stuff. Super lame huh? I already know God.... but still..... this is my dream. Don't dash it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What i've learned: Superman isn't real- neither is Hogwarts

The first time that I read Harry Potter, my mind was blown. I loved the world that J.K. Rowling created- I loved the people, the places, the magic. Call me a bad Christian, but Harry Potter is the best series ever.
To be honest, I half convinced myself that Hogwarts (the wizard school that Harry goes to) was real. I half hoped that when I turned 11, I would get a letter from Hogwarts telling me I was accepted.

I didn't.

And while this little let-down of reality was only as serious as the realization that Santa isn't real, it just serves as an example of how growing up makes you face a reality you don't always want to. Like, for example, the fact that none of your childhood heroes are perfect.
When I was a kid, I thought my dad could do anything. I felt so safe around him. I remember he used to lay on the couch, and I would sit at his feet. It was my safe place.
But then I grew up. I still love my dad, and I still value his experience (he's great with cars. I'm really thankful for that) But now I know that he isn't perfect, that he doesn't know everything.
The same goes with other "heroes" in my life. I always thought that they would always be there, lovingly and wisely looking over me, making sure I never got hurt. But that's not reality! Yes, they love me, but the truth is there are some problems in my life that only I can deal with. Yes, people can help me through them, and love me through them, but it's up to ME to handle them. Superman can't save me- only I can.
Here I will say, of course, that Jesus is the only real Super hero. He really CAN help you through anything- but you still need to take some ownership.
So, simply put, I have learned that you cannot wait for your heroes to save you. You have to stand up for yourselves sometimes. God will always be there for you, of course- but you need to take the initiative and start to work on your problems. PRAY- but don't be afraid to take action. BAM.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What i've learned: MENTORS

So yesterday, I went on a little rant about mentors. I must say, all of what I said are real feelings. I try not to voice them very often, because I know that those feelings are not necessarily fair to a lot of people in my life. The truth is, a lot of my "mentors" have done a lot of things for me in my life. They've taken me along with them on trips, they've let me stay with them in their homes, they've paid for lunches, helped pay for books, picked up the phone at twelve at night when i'm just freakin out. So as many disappointing times that i've had, and as often as i've felt alone, I have also been very blessed by these men.

So today is about the otherside of mentorship- what I have learned about being a mentor.

1. Mentors need to be the mentee's advocate. You cannot condemn.
2. Mentors need to act for the best of the mentee, even if that means being the "bad guy" sometimes.
3. Mentors need to take time, and take effort- they may be the only ones who are doing that in the mentees life.
4. Mentors need to invite the mentee into a story- they need to give them something to live for, and something they believe themselves.
5. Mentors need to make mentees feel special- because, after all, they are special.
6. Mentors need to help develop the God-given abilities of the mentees, and give them opportunities to use these abilities.
7. Mentors need to not worry about their popularity, or whether they are being loved in return. It's not about them, it's about the mentee.

What else guys? If you read this, is there anything else that a mentor should do? I want to be the best mentor I can be to every student or friend that I have. I'm workin on it ;)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What I don't understand: MENTORS

I'm a little bitter about this subject. Haha I don't really know what a mentor mentee relationship looks like, but pretty much every relationship that I would consider to be of that nature has kind of failed me at one point or another.
I always thought of mentors as people who are interested in YOU- people who want you to succeed, who invest in you, and who want to spend time with you. Maybe i'm totally wrong, but that sounds pretty legit, right?
The people who i've considered mentors in the past aren't EXACTLY like that lol. I love em all, but i've kind of been embittered to the whole thing.
There was this one guy who said he would set up times for us to meet and everything. Today I realized we haven't talked at all in more than a month..... he's done a lot for me, and I love him, but that stinks.
Usually what happens that really annoys me though is that they don't answer when I try to talk to them. I hate how I get all nervous just to send a freakin message, and then they don't respond! Talk about making me insecure! And now that I think about it, the very fact that I get nervous is probably a good indication that it's not a healthy relationship.
Another thing is that it's always me asking them to hang out... I feel like the mentor should take some initiative.
I mean really, this whole idea of some older guy caring about me is kind of ridiculous. I don't know where it came from, or why it matters to me. But it does. Mentors mean alot to me. Heck, I talk about them in like... every post. I just wish that I would get a real one.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate every guy in my life. But none of them really know whats going on with me anymore. I start school in two days, and I would have loved to sit down with SOMEONE and assess my life. I need that lol. But times kind of run out, and that shtinks.
I didn't mean to whine about this, i'm just really randomally frusterated today. Argh. On the brightside, we started shooting a video for teen divorce care today. It went great. :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What i've learned: Take your passions, seriously, not yourself

I just dyed my hair black. And put a fake tribal tattoo on my arm. And i'm wearing a black tank top. I look like a tool.

I have been called many a thing in my day (one being tool, but i'm really not, I just have to look like one for a church thing). Usually its immature, hyper, childish, bla bla bla.....
And y'know what? I am those things! I could not ever deny that I have the heart of a kid.
I constantly sing,
I am happy go lucky at the WORST moments,
I'm hard to take serious,
i'm awesome with kids,
I can brighten anyone's day,
I have the unique ability to know that everything will be alright.
I love who I am.
And I am made perfectly to do God's will.
Ya see, if I didn't have this heart, and this childlike energy, it would be VERY hard for me to serve in the ways I do. I lead kid's worship, lead a kid's small group, lead a teen small group, and someday i'm going to lead a whole youth group! If I were some straight laced, careful, pensive guy- that would be hard.
What i'm saying is, God made us each perfectly equipped to do the ministry He has called us to. Our personality's fit beautifully into the plans He has for us. We should not try to change who we really are- i'm not saying you shouldn't get new clothes, or try to be more friendly, or more loving. I'm saying that do not be anything that compromises your core. Do not take yourself so seriously that you keep yourself from being the person God made you! Let lose, have fun- LIVE. You are you, and you are awesome. Let God use WHO YOU ARE and the PASSIONS HE GAVE YOU TOGETHER.

To put it simply- and maybe I haven't even said this yet, I don't know, i'm pretty tired- Do not let the world tell you who to be, or how to live your life. Be who God has made you to be, and live out the passions He's given you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What I know: Abimael

well, my friends, THIS post is going to be the happy kind. The very happy kind. The I-know-who-I-am-and-you-can-too happy kind. This post is not just what I have learned. Oh no, THIS post is special. THIS post is about something I know without a shadow of a doubt.

Be excited.

Tonight I went to the twenty four hour prayer at my church. I didn't honestly expect much- I had a long day, and I didn't sleep much before that. I was ready for beeeed.
But God took advantage of this opportunity to speak to me. When your in a room that is all about prayer, well...... it's inevitable.
The service planning team had laid out cards where you can pray and write down what God said to you. He said two very distinct things to me- well one was a conversation, but that's private. This part, however, I will share with you.

Hey Jon,
Words cannot express how deep my love for you is. You make me so proud every day.
You are my pride, you are my joy. Your heart is a spring of life and love to others.
It is beautiful. Don't let it dry up. You are my son, my man, and I AM YOUR GOD.
Though you may think that no one else believes in you, I DO.
Though you may feel alone, I AM WITH YOU. You need not settle for anything less.
You are amazing, you are wonderful, and you are loved.

This might seem crazy, but He seriously said this to me! It was so amazing and great. I teared up. Who wouldn't?
And here's the thing guys- God loves us all like this. He is so madly in love with us. Every second of every day we bring Him joy, we bring Him pride. Gosh guys, I know that some of you feel worthless, like no one cares- like the decisions and actions you make have no meaning- that's not the case! God is crazy about you, and He wants you to know it!
I wish I could make you guys feel this love, this security, this warmth-but only you can choose to feel it. God's waiting to let you know His feelings, but you have to be listening.
I know sometimes you feel like your situations are so far beyond repair, that there is no hope, that you are stuck in the little world you live in.
That's a lie. God has huge plans for you. He will never condemn you, and he will always be there to pick you up, to protect you, and to reaffirm who you really are. I will say it again- HE LOVES YOU.
Abimael means "God is my father". It's Hebrew, and if I were to ever get a tattoo this would be it. I have learned this to be true time and time again. God is our Father. Even if we have the best dads in the world they cannot compare to God. No one can protect us like God, no one can challenge us like God, no one can cheer us on like God..... no one can love us like God. Please try to understand this. It is so important that you know that you are loved and wanted, and that you MEAN SOMETHING. No one else can make you see this but yourself. I'm just asking you to try to open your eyes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What i've learned: Mistakes are inevitable, regret shouldn't have to be

I had no intention of talking about this..... I was gonna talk about fun stuff, like not taking yourself seriously, and how Lost is NOT ABOUT STINKIN PURGATORY. But this is what came out of my brain instead.

Have you ever made a huge, ugly mistake? You know the feeling you get, like your whole world is turned upside down, like your suddenly in a Twilight Zone episode that never ends. That feeling like somehow everything is wrong, even to the lighting of the room your in, or the voice of the person your talking to, or how the person who you used to look to for guidance is the one that's pointing out your mistake, and you can only sit there and take it?
That is not a fun feeling, or a fun place to be. But we've all done stupid stuff before. And the funny thing is, you don't realize you could've prevented it until AFTER it happened. Like God decided to give you this little insight a little too late. (Thanks, Big Guy. Just kidding)
Anyway, I haven't really talked about this much to a lot of people. But I had a moment like this not so long ago.
You see, I had an amazing opportunity the last couple of months. I was the Family Life Intern at my church, first of its kind. I got to lead Missions Trips, bring kids to camp, pray with them, love them. See God move in their lives. I got to sit in at staff meetings, go to birthday lunches, go to youth group meetings. It was cool, amazing- it was my dream since I was a student.
Buuuuut, me being the perfect, amazing person I am, I absolutely dashed all that into the ground. Dramatic, right?
As i've already said, i've visited a lot of my dark places the last couple months. Wouldn't recommend that whilst going to college and being an intern. too much junk. Anyway, I was in a pretty ugly place. It was important that I went there, because i'm better for it, but nonetheless. I took it into my internship. I was an idiot, I was a jerk- I ruined it.
And so, one night after youth group, Pastor Jeff called me into his office with Pastor Roy, and basically... fired me. It was a nightmare. I already described it, but it felt like everything was wrong. The people who I wanted to turn to were the ones who were making this happen. It was terrible.
I went outside and walked down the street, and I just broke down. I sat on a hill and cried, and asked God why He let me go through all of this stuff, and after that make me lose the one thing that I still had going for me. I walked back to the church and cried into Jeramy and Nick's arms for another thirty minutes. That was my absolute lowest point. Not proud of it. The next day I skipped all my classes and stayed in bed til work. (Also not a great decision)
anyhoo, that was the mistake. I know it was my fault that I got let go. I let my personal battles get in the way of an internship that I really did care about. I deserved what happened.
But then there's the regret. Even today, I regret so much about the situation.
I regret being as selfish as I was.
I regret taking advantage of Oakhills.
I regret the fact that I will probably never be a official intern at Oakhills again.
But most of all, I regret that I let Jeff and Roy down.
I think about it every day. Which honestly surprises me. But it's the biggest mistake I have ever made. Funny thing is, I know i'll make bigger.
And that's the thing about regret- if I really regretted everything i've ever done wrong in the past, I would be a wreck. And it only keeps coming. So I think the truth is, is that we are supposed to simply LEARN from our mistakes, and then let them go. Regret robs us of the lessons that can be learned from the dumb things we do.
There is a silver lining to the situation. I have been forgiven. By God, by Jeff, by Roy, by Jen Galley (she's the kids pastor). I still work in the youth group, I still work at kid's church. I STILL get to see God impact kid's lives. And to be honest, I still get to play a bigger part in youth group than I ever have. I might not have the tag of an intern, but I have the heart. I just want to serve, and I know I messed up the intern thing, but that doesn't mean I want to serve any less.
The only thing that sucks is that this means that I will definitely someday have to leave Oakhills. You see, I need an internship for my major in college, and since I can't get it at Oakhills.....

But i'll worry about that when it comes.
So here's what i've learned. Mistakes happen, and sometimes they hurt. But what matters is not the regret, but the lesson that can be learned. Bam.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What i've learned: Transitions are scary.... but good

This took FOREVER to be able to write.... stupid blog site being all difficult.

Tonight was a bitter sweet night for me. Bitter, because it's no longer my youth pastor who's in charge. It was bizarre knowing that he's really, REALLY, not running the show anymore. I still got to see him today, and hang out with his awesome kids, so thats nifty.
It was sweet because tonight still rocked. I love the students at my church. They are so freakin great. I love knowing their stories, seeing their ups, being there for the downs. I love to see what God's love can do in these kids. Ugh, SO GREAT. But I digress, because the youth post will come later. Today is about toughing out transitions.

I''m really sorry for talking about the whole "youth pastor switch" thing as much as I do, but it's a big deal for me. Tonight really kind of made it real again, but in a great way.
You see, when I found out Jeff was leaving, I had half a mind to follow him. I don't really remember why, but these doubts about whether or not I belonged at Oakhills started poppin in my head. I never really talked about them, because I didn't want my students to worry I was leaving, but they were definitely there. Fusion wasn't going to be a "home" anymore, just a place I volunteered, and, to be honest, a place I felt I had gotten all that I could out of. If a good opportunity would have come up, I would have bailed ship without a doubt.
Yeesh, I hate how that sounds.

But I didn't, I stuck around. I figured I should give this "pastor Roy" a chance. Honestly, because I wanted to make sure that Fusion would be ok. Haha- like I have the authority or need to watch over it. And it's been good. Somehow, these last couple of months I have gotten so much out of this whole transition process. I had my time to grieve, but at the same time I got to see Roy become a great leader, and Jeff kinda just.... fade out.

And tonight was really beautiful. Because that transition is pretty much complete, and Fusion's still standing. Roy did an awesome job tonight. He owned it. The kid's love him. I love him. I love his heart, I love his vision. I love the amazing relationships he has already made with students. So for now, i'm more than content with following and trusting his leadership. I can learn a lot from that guy.
He and Elissa (his wife) are no Jeff and Tiff- they are so incredibly DIFFERENT, and I absolutely love it. They are going to impact so many students, and i'm excited to be a part of that.

So here's what i've learned: transitions are SCARY, but in the end, they usually end up being perfect. At least this one did.

(And if Roy or Elissa read this, don't ever say i'm insulting again. I just dedicated a whole post to you, and only said very nice, AND TRUE, things. Love ya guys.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What i've learned: Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.

The name of this post is a lyric from the Fray.  I love those guys.  Their songs are so mellow and meaningful.  They never get old.  You know what other band is like the Fray?  Sleeping At Last.  Super great.  You should listen to them.

Anyway,  I hate this fact about life.  That the things that are the best for you are usually the most painful.

I wanna be huge.  I wish I was ripped.  I actually went all out during the summer and watched what I ate, and worked out a lot-  not gonna lie, I looked pretty good.  But that was a BUTT LOAD of work!  It got to be too much, and I quit.  I say this because it took a lot, but the results were worth it.
Going to college?  A ton of work.  But when I become a youth pastor it'll all be worth it.
Jobs?  They consume so much time..... but ya gotta like the paychecks.

Then theres the really hard stuff, like working on relationships that you really don't want to deal with.  I was honestly avoiding my family the last couple months because I was trying to figure my own junk out.  When Thanksgiving came,  I didn't want to go home at all.  I was dreading it.  But then Jeff said I should (which pissed me off).  It took a lot for me to go home, but when I did, it felt really good, like I wasn't hiding anymore.  Hahaha maybe that doesn't make sense, but it's true.
And what about our relationship with God?  Sometimes it can be hard to pray, to read the Bible, to tithe, to fast-  I struggle with a couple of those often.  But the benefits to an amazing relationship with God far outweigh the cost.  The sinful lifestyle you have to give up is NOTHING compared to the amazing freedom God offers.
  And these give and takes are definitely something you need to think about.  Jesus said that the builders don't start building without first deciding whether or not they have enough materials.  We shouldn't make decisions until we decide if the choice we make will be worth it.

And, y'know, I didn't even mean for this post to turn into a Salvation thing, but the fact is, is that before I knew Christ I thought that living for him would be really, really hard.  But I knew it was right, So I did it.  And the pay off has been more than worth it.  I don't know who or where I would be without Jesus.  I know that sounds super cheezy,  and I never, EVER want to sound like I only give Sunday School answers, but it's true.  The decision we make to follow Jesus is proof enough that hard choices yield the best results- Lose your life and find it, pick up your cross, yada yada yada.  It's crazy talk!

But there is nothing more worthwhile.
So, what I have learned is that the tough decisions we make are the ones that matter most.  So, let's face these decisions head on.  Shrinking away will only stunt your growth.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What I don't know: The definition of home

Remember when you were a little kid?  Remember what made you worry?  For me, it was my happy meal toys. They had to be perfect.  No scratches, no dents, and I ALWAYS had to have them with me.  Happy Meal toys.  That's as simple as my worries were.  I didn't worry if I would have enough money to get through the next two weeks, or if I would be able to be supportive enough for my guys at youth group, or if I would pass all my classes, or if there would be anyone willing to walk through my problems with me.  I didn't worry about having someone to pick me up when I fell.

I miss that.  That feeling of security, that somehow knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I was safe.
I don't know how I lost that feeling, but it's gone.  No where really feel's like "home" now.

And what IS "home" anyway?  Is it a physical place?  Or is it a person, or group of people?  Is home just a feeling?
Regardless of what it  ACTUALLY is, we all have that definition of "home" that we keep in our hearts.  And i'm pretty sure for most of us, it is not a present truth.  I'm pretty sure that we all lose it eventually, that by the time we are teenagers are perfect view of home is shattered.  I mean, what do you do when you are counseling your parents rather than them counseling you?
What do you do when you want to talk to someone you used to trust, but know they won't understand?
What do you do when a parent is falling apart, and you have to be strong for THEM, even though it hurts you just as bad?
 At this point in my life, i'm not sure you can ever regain that feeling of "home" once you've lost it.  Maybe down the road, I'll find a girl, get married, have kids, and start my own family- but even then, I will be the one who has to provide the safety for my kids.  I will never feel that safety myself.

That sucks.

And I think that that mourning of our "home", and that searching for the safety we remember is what drives a lot of our actions.  We do things that make us feel safe, that make us feel secure.  We hang out with people that make us feel loved, and that we believe won't hurt us or let us fall through the cracks.  We get mad at people when they do something that ruins our illusion of the "home" in our hearts.  Every day we wake up and search out that feeling of warmth, we strive for it, hunger for it- I know I do.
And here's what I might know- what I might know, but not for sure.  And if i'm right about this, I don't want to be-  I think that this searching for "home" can never be completed on earth.  I think that we will die looking for a safe place.  Any feeling of "home" we feel, until our dying day, will just be an illusion.

Thank God we have Jesus, who came to earth to bring us back to God, and who came to tell us he was preparing a home for us in Heaven.  Thank God that.... God loves us, and when we finally reunite with Him, we will at last be home.  How great will it be when that ideal home that we all hold in our hearts comes to life, but ends up being a thousand times better than what we thought?

That's my hope, that's how I keep going.  Not in this life, but in some other life,  I will finally, REALLY, be home.  I just have to hold on til then. ;)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What i've learned: Life is a purposeful MESS

I am a juggernaut when it comes to life.  if you don't know what that means, you should probably play CoD, because that's how my brothers learned what it was.  Yep.

anyways,  I guess you could say that I kinda run through life top speed, not slowing down long enough to take care of the little stuff. Doctors Appointments, homework, nameless junk- anything and everything can get lost in the shuffle.  Now, maybe that's a horrible, terrible way to live.  Some of my more organized friends would die if they knew EXACTLY how I live my life.  But what can I say, I like a little bit of chaos.

And I would have to argue that God might too.

Today in church, we talked about starting "brand new".  Actually, my pastor talked about how you SHOULDN'T try to start all over all the time, that you should continue on your journey with all the experiences you have.  That's right, your supposed to take all your junk ,all your messes, and all your past along for the ride. Sounds ugly, huh?
  To be honest, it really IS ugly.... unless you factor in that whole "grace of God" factor.  When you factor in the fact that God repeatedly forgives us every time we mess up, then all the messiness can be kind of amazing.
I mean, without the threat of eternal damnation hanging over your head, each mistake and tough spot can really be an opportunity to learn and get closer to God.  Each ugly part of you can be a spot where God is magnified a thousand fold.  Each imperfection can be a humble reminder that you are human.
I love, absolutely LOVE the idea that once God takes control of your life, any messiness that's still left is a testament to the wildness of God.  I love that He's so unpredictable, and I love that it's so evident in my life.  He comes through every time I need Him to, but He's like an incredible storm i'm caught up in, and I just have to let Him work.
  So, basically, what i'm saying is that I have learned that God is incredibly wild, like a storm.  And with that, sometimes riding the storm is pretty wild.  But I know that it's worth it.  This life is preeeetty messy sometimes.  But it's freakin beautiful.  Thank you God!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What i've learned: Love is freeing.

What up?  Y'know, I did absolutely nothing today except napped and drank coffee.  Saturdays are usually the days where I work and wait for Sunday.  I love Sundays a lot, one of my two favorite days of the week.  So Saturdays sometimes feel like a waiting game.  Kinda weird, huh? oh well, whatevskis.

Anyway, today i'm going to talk about one of those things that i'm still learning, and might never really fully understand.  Let me start off by talking about my "hero's".  These are five guys who have- and are- shaping my life in small or big ways.  They are, in no certain order:

1.Jeff Wendt
2. Jeramy Wheeler
3. Nick Gray
4. Jon Sanchez
5.  And the newest.... and somewhat surprising, Roy Lucier

I owe these guys so much, and love each of them a butt load.  But the thing is, because of all my insecurities and junk, I always doubt the authenticity of each of our relationships.  I feel like they probably don't really care about me, even though they've done so much for me.  I mean, they must care, right?



That's not the point.  Here's what i've been learning.  It shouldn't matter whether they care about me or not.  Worrying about what they think about me makes me feel like I have to control the relationship, makes me need to constantly talk to them, or make sure they know i'm around.  It's like i'm afraid they'll forget me unless I constantly remind them i'm there.  And that's ridiculous.
  Here's the truth:  Jesus loved so much that he gave his life for everyone-  even if they didn't love him back.  That's real love- to love regardless it being reciprocated.  Real love does not control, real love frees the other person, and asks nothing in return.
 So, Jeff- this guy who I have looked up to all of my teenage life- is leaving my church.  Not gonna lie, i've been taking it pretty hard the last couple of months.  I was afraid that after he left, that would be the end of him being in my life.  It's really scary.  But y'know what? I'm gonna love the guy and his family regardless if we ever talk again.  I mean, that's real love. And if we never talk again?  As hard as that will be, it'll probably be that way for a reason, and at least there won't be any hard feelings.
  So, My goal- in EVERY relationship- is to stop trying to control it, and to just love unconditionally.  At least that way, when its all said and done, I know I gave my best to the relationship.
And that's what i'm learning. :)