Monday, September 7, 2015

The Fantasy Draft of Life

It is that time of year again... FOOTBALL!!!!!!  That's right it's back, tailgating, jerseys, non stop games on Saturdays, and of course my Virginia Tech Hokies.  This time of year also brings on the  crazy, exciting, frustrating, and extremely fun practice of the Fantasy Draft. 

For those of you that do not know about this, the fantasy draft is when you join a group of people to pick a team of NFL or even college players that you will follow and work with throughout the season while competing against the other people in your group.  These teams are often chosen through the process of the fantasy draft where each person gets to choose a player each round of the draft. 

These players are chosen by their skill level and where they rank according to different "experts".  The first round is where the best players are chosen whereas the fifteenth round lends itself to players with significantly less skill.  Players are chosen until each person's roster is filled. 

Although it is a lot of fun, there are so many factors in play, from injuries to not living up to expectations.  It can be very frustrating when you think you have picked the perfect team but it doesn't pan out the way you expected it to. 

I believe that God has a continuous fantasy draft going on where each day he decides to add to his team.  The difference between God's fantasy draft and my NFL draft is that God creates his players.  He creates players that have different skills and passions that allow them to take on different jobs, hobbies, and the world.  He gives each of his players the tools to preform but he also gives them free will which allows them to make choices based on their likes and dislikes and their current situations.

You see God's draft isn't in any particular order because honestly, he drafts each and everyone one of his players with the first pick.  In his eyes we are all equal, we are all loved, and we are all created in his image.  Although we may all look, talk, and act differently, we are all the number one pick in the eyes of God.  We are all the best player on the team. 

We are all drafted number 1 in the fantasy league of life, now it is up to us to go out into the world and show God why he drafted us number 1.   


Monday, August 17, 2015

D-Gall- And then there was none...

So Saturday the last of my three Senior girls moved into college.  Danielle is going to Meredith which is right up the street from the church but it still feels so far away.  Danielle and I have been close over these last 6 years and it has been amazing to watch her grow up to be the beautiful young lady that she has become.  She has grown not only literally but also spiritually.  She delivered the message on Senior Sunday. 

Danielle has a way about her that just draws people in.  They want to be around her and with her because she is someone that is in the moment with you when you need her to be. 

I have so many wonderful memories of Danielle.  I can't even begin to tell you how many adventures we have had together.  One of my favorite memories is our first ASP together.  I didn't know her very well at the time but we bonded over that week.  I remember sitting in the back seat of the van with the seat laid back and her leaning over the seat and taking selfies of us looking up at the camera.  The smile that she had in those pictures is the same smile she brings with her anytime that you see her.  It  is an amazing smile that can light up a room. 

I have always loved to watch her perform in theater and see that smile as well as the emotion on her face as she acted out her different roles and parts.  She takes everything she does so seriously and that showed on the stage even when she had the smallest of parts. 

I am going to miss her a lot not just  because of everything she did for the youth group but because of everything she did for me too.  She was so active in everything we did and she always wanted to take a leadership role. She was the first one to step up and always had a way of knowing the right thing to say.  It is going to be hard to do youth group without her.

All three of our seniors made huge impacts on what we have accomplished as a Youth Group.  They were all amazing and will go forth to do amazing things in life.  They have made huge impacts on St. Mark's, on the youth group, and on me.  I can't wait to see where life takes them. 

This was just a small part of their giant journey of life.  I am just thankful that God put them here when he did so that we could witness their love, their growth, and they amazing abilities.

 I am proud of all of you! Thank you for all that you have done...

And now we must exist stage right and move on to the next act! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I am gonna miss you Kenzie!

I was sitting in my office this morning when I heard someone almost running up the stairs to my office.  I turned to see Kenzie come running in to tell me goodbye before she leaves for college in a couple of hours.  We embrace in  a giant big hug and she told me all about her worries and concerns but also about her excitement about what is to come. 

I love Kenzie!  She has such an infectious spirit about her and you can always tell when she loves you because she shows it.  I first met Kenzie when Harper was in the hospital having back surgery.  She was a wide eyed beautiful girl then (as she is now) and she was full of energy as she was talking to Harper.  I remember just standing back and watching her as her arms moved about as she talked.  Who would of known that that encounter in the hospital would of led to Kenzie being such an important part of our youth group and of my life.

Although at times I have gotten on her about her lack of involvement and commitment to youth group, she always came back stronger than ever.  When I told her what I needed to see to put her back on the Youth leadership team without hesitation she made it happen!  I was so proud of her.

Kenzie is such a hard worker.  When she puts her mind to something she will accomplish the task!

It is going to be hard to do youth group without her.  It will be hard not having that smile around.  It will be hard not being beat up by her all the time, ok maybe that won't be so hard. 

Kenzie I am speaking directly to you now, go out and make this world amazing.  Be the beautiful wonderful you that I know and love.  Don't let people change who you are or what you believe in. God is always there for you and he will never leave you. 

 Know that this world is better because you are in it.  Your laugh, smile, and love fill the world with color.  Thank you for sharing such a small part of your life with us and with me.  You have no idea of the huge imprint you have made on my heart.  I love you, I am here when you need me, and the door is always open when you want to visit! 

Grab a hold of life and make it yours, only you can tame it. 

Go be beautiful, wonderful you!

I can't wait to hear the stories about your adventures!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thank you The Harp aka Harper!

I have been struggling a little and feeling a little overwhelmed going into this year's youth group year for some reason.  I was having a moment yesterday while working on a few things so I stopped everything I was doing and rearranged my office.  If you know me you know that I like to rearrange my office very often.  It helps me to center myself and get focused on the next thing. As I was cleaning my office I came across a paper that Harper had written for her English class two years ago.  The title of the paper was "Wise Guy."  Her paper talked about an important mentor in her life, someone that she admired.

Her paper was about me.  She said so many wonderful things about me and talked about my passion for my job and how much I loved our youth.  She talked about how I paid attention to the details of their lives, so much so that I once texted her just to see how her Spanish quiz went.  She went on to say so many kind and loving things.  My favorite line from the paper is:

"A mentor is not just someone to look up to; they are a guide that wants to see the person they care for succeed.  They will move mountains and expect nothing in return."

Reading her words made me tear up but also helped me to refocus.  I have had Harper as part of my life for the last seven years which has come to an end, as far as youth group goes.  This will be the first year since I have come to St. Mark's that I will not have a Dabagian in my youth group. 

Harper did an amazing job as the president of Youth Group this past year.  If you knew Harper back in 6th grade you would of never thought that she would of been comfortable as the president of a Youth Group.

Harper, I just want you to know that I am so thankful for all your time and dedication to Youth Group.  You are an amazing person who is going to do amazing things in life.  Thank you for giving me a copy of this paper and for reminding me why I do what I do.  It was a  good reminder that we might not always hear that we are making a difference in the lives of our youth but that we truly are making a difference. 

Thanks for helping me to get back on track to start a new youth group year!  You may not be here in person but you will always be in my heart!  Now go and be the best Spartan you can be  at UNCG!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Man Behind the Curtain

Most of us have seen the Wizard of Oz.  In the movie the great and powerful Oz is this huge figure that is glowing green and has a loud boisterous voice booming through the room with smoke and fire bellowing out around him. He is a fearful, intimidating being that scares everyone who comes in contact with him.  The funny thing is that the actually Oz is a mild and meek person hiding behind a curtain.  He is actually a timid man but when he is able to hide behind the curtain he is able to be forceful and boisterous. 

We each have a man behind the curtain.  Each of us has a different personality or way that we would be if we were able to hide behind a curtain and no one were able to see our true selves.  Sometimes that would be a very good thing and we would be able to share more about who we really are and voice our opinions which we may not normally do.  Others of us may be more wicked or mean spirited, we may try to do things that we shouldn't because the true us is behind the curtain.

Recently I've found out some information about a really close and dear friend of mine who I love very much.  The information is not good and makes me believe that I don't really know who he is.  It confuses me and I am at a loss because I don't approve of his behavior.  What I am trying to work through is whether or not the person that is my close friend is the real him with the loving, kind, wonderful heart, or is the real him the person that makes bad decisions and does things that I don't approve of?  Which one of these personalities is my friend's real personality and which is his man behind the curtain?   I don't know and that is hard.

 I think it is probably a combination of the both.

Have you every thought about your man behind the curtain?  Would that be a good or bad thing for you? I am not sure what mine looks like and who I would come across as.  I hope it would be a good thing.

I think the goal is for us to be the same person whether we are in front of or behind the curtain.  It's like I tell my youth kids all the time, I expect you to be the same person at church that you are out in the world.  I know it is hard with peer pressure and other influences out there in the world but we must be true to who we are and who we want to be.  I hope that your man behind the curtain is more like the man in the mirror for you.  A reflection of who you truly are.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shoeless Joe ASPer

Last week at ASP a youth from the other church we were with really put ASP in perspective for me.  He told us a story about how he was playing Frisbee with some kids from his site at the ASP picnic and the Frisbee went into the lake.  He had to go after it so they could continue to play.  His shoes got soaked while he was in the water so he had to take them off to continue to play.  The kids had been on a hillside above him but after the Frisbee went into the water they wanted to change places and come down to the pavement. 

The youth said to them that he couldn't go up on the hillside because he didn't have shoes on anymore.  All the kids looked at him really funny and one of them asked him why he couldn't go on the hill.  That's when he noticed that none of the kids were wearing shoes.  When he thought about he hadn't seen them in shoes all week.  After he realized this he didn't say anything else about shoes, he just went up on the hillside and continued to play Frisbee. 

He told us that with every rock or root he stepped on that it reminded him of how fortunate he is to have the simplest thing such as shoes. He told us that it hurt a lot to play without his shoes but he refused to put them back on.

Some of us have a lot in life.  We live in houses with walls, floors, ceilings, heat and air conditioning.  He have stuff like clothes, shoes, jewelry, video games, and tv with cable.  Although we have all of our "stuff", I believe that the people that we visit and help on ASP are the richest people on earth.  They might not have "stuff" like we do but they are extremely thankful for what they have and they have tight loving families who will give the shirt off their backs for each other.  They have traditions and stories that they will share with you. 

A rich person is not someone with "stuff", a rich person has love in their heart, humility in their soul, and family in their arms. 

May we all be rich!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Top 10 Things I learned from my Dad...

10.  There are many colorful words that can be used while working on the car.  I have remembered most of them but most of all I remember all the times that we worked on projects together and anything I know about cars came from you.

9.  No matter how good or bad Virginia Tech is we will always be fans.  Being a fan of Virginia Tech has always been a roller coaster ride but you have always taught me to be loyal and that shows up every year when I get excited for the coming season.  We will always have Virginia Tech athletics to talk about.

8.  Mulch doesn't move itself, the grass doesn't mow itself, and the leaf piles don't blow away.  Yard work was always part of our lives in Clemmons, NC but it was a great feeling to accomplish a task.  Thanks for teaching me that the end of the day you can always look back and realize that you have accomplished so much. 

7.  You should never drink Orange Juice as an after school snack.  Orange Juice was always expensive even when we would buy it from concentrate.  I would always drink it when I got home from school and there wouldn't be any left for the next morning. There is a time and place for certain things, it may be as simple as drinking Orange Juice in the morning, or it might be a well placed / timed hug.  Thanks for reminding me that good things come to those that wait.

6.  Lemon cookies, coffee ice cream, and pretzels are amazing!  Your favorite flavors and foods have become my favorite flavors and foods!  Like father like son!

5.  There are a lot of holes in the sea, which you often find when you are riding on your father's back.  When we would go to the ocean, I would ride on your back as we would go out looking for the Kracken and you would often step in "holes" which made us both go under the water.  Thanks for teaching me that simple things can bring joy and laughter.

4.  Always enjoy the classics.  Ever time we were in the car whether it was a trip, a card show, or just running errands, we would listen to the oldies station.  The Temptations, Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and the Embers became staples in my music library.  Music is like fine wine, it gets better with age.

3.  Laughter is the best medicine.  You have always made me laugh.  I hope that I am able to do that for other people because it is an important part of everyday life.

2. Don't ever give up.  When I was in middle school we went to a baseball / basketball card shows and I bought a box of Hoops basketball cards hoping to get some David Robinson rookie cards.  By the time we reached the grocery store right near the house I had opened 3/4ths of the box and didn't have a single David Robinson Card.  As we walked through the grocery store and I was upset, you told me not to give up.  When we got back in the car, I opened 3 packs in a row that had David Robinson rookie cards.  I knew then that I should never give up!

1.  You taught me what it is like to be a great father.  Although I will never be a father, I hope that I show those around me the same love and support that you have always shown me!  Happy Father's Day Dad!